The joys of being the unofficial IT guy for your entire family

February 1st, 2011 · 49 comments

“My dad has six older, very Italian sisters,” writes Kristina in Detroit, in what sounds very much like the setup for a sitcom. “They’re all very opinionated, and will take a stab at you whenever possible.”

A few weeks ago, she says, “My dad — out of the kindness of his heart — lent a hand by fixing his oldest sister’s virus-riddled computer.” Of course, Aunt Marie was well-warned that wiping her (un-backed-up) hard drive to get rid of the viruses would also erase her other downloaded programs, music and whatnot, but true to form, Aunt Marie wasn’t about to let a good deed go unpunished.

Even in her thank you note, Kristina says, “she just had to mention her ‘programs’ (which have no chance of coming back, and she knows it!)”

Thanks Mike, We appreciate you fixing my computer.  Good job - Still need my programs back - Love ya, Marie and Sam

related: Best wishes, godless heathens!

FILED UNDER: a little patronizing · Detroit · family · signed with love · thanks (but not really)

49 responses so far ↓

  • #1   Scott

    I have had this sort of comment. My reply is generally something like
    “Pass me the CDs and I can do that no problem.”
    That usually shuts them up as they realise that there is no way that I am going to install dodgy copies of MS office. (I work in IT and want to keep doing that.)

    Feb 1, 2011 at 7:10 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #2   snOMG

    I know this woman! She’s several of my relatives. This is both a PA swipe at the guy who lost the programs and a PA invitation to come over for another visit to download everything again (making it a PA request for a favor), with a little PA anger at the internets for allowing this to happen. This is the power of this woman. She can be PA on many planes of existence simultaneously. Also, she has very big hair.

    Feb 1, 2011 at 7:10 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.1   Smiley4099

      She has fake nails, too.

      Feb 1, 2011 at 9:34 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.2   Liz

      I’m not crazy about her perfume, either.

      Or is that old-lady funk?

      Feb 1, 2011 at 11:09 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.3   Karl

      Does she draw her eyebrows on, too?

      Feb 2, 2011 at 7:29 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.4   The Elf

      And she only ever calls when she needs her computer fixed.

      Feb 2, 2011 at 2:27 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.5   FeRD bang

      Hah! If only. That’d be a blessing in disguise, Elf.

      Feb 2, 2011 at 9:17 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.6   Clumber

      No doubt, FeRD… no doubt. Though I do have a couple “lifetime free computer tech support” folks who DO only call me b/c their copied/stolen version of Quicken is giving them “stupid boxes”, most of the family ones… well yeah. No.

      Feb 3, 2011 at 8:30 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #3   not gen anything

    I have relatives like this. They believe that by constantly repeating something, magic will make it so. I still need my programs back!

    Feb 1, 2011 at 7:27 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #3.1   Clumber

      The temptation to send them advert inserts for places like Frys for the software they want “back”… maybe that would do double duty and get me uninvited from the PA holiday dinners too?

      Feb 3, 2011 at 8:31 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #4   JetJackson

    Really, you got that? Because I read
    “Ive aggriciiti joi fuig ny cmputei. Siid jil – Stw neel my gugrinu bick… ” :S wtf!? Bloody calligraphy snobs! Invest in MS Word and a printer!

    Feb 1, 2011 at 8:28 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.1   Smiley4099

      They did, but their shifty copies of MS Word were wiped from the computer.

      Feb 1, 2011 at 8:37 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.2   nocturnesthesia

      It better stay wiped. Otherwise, your internet provider will cut off your service and send you a bunch of cease-and-desist letters because they decided to hook their virus-filled computer up to your wireless, DODGY STOLEN PROGRAMS AND ALL…

      Feb 2, 2011 at 11:00 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #5   Leonna

    @JetJackson – that’s not calligraphy. It’s cursive, something that I was taught in third grade. Calligraphy is very different.

    Feb 1, 2011 at 8:35 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #5.1   JetJackson

      Yet they didn’t teach you to gigglebrax.

      Feb 1, 2011 at 10:29 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #5.2   Canthz_B bang

      Or give you a sense of the absurd.

      Feb 1, 2011 at 11:16 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #5.3   erik smit

      I know it’s cursive but I’m not sure if it’s Greek or Cyrillic. It certainly doens’t look like any Cursive I ever learnt.

      Feb 4, 2011 at 8:34 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #6   Nahhh bang

    IMO, Dad is the PA one here. They’re his OLDER sisters; he’s got to have at least a little pent-up anger. If he’d truly acted “out of the kindness of his heart,” he would have backed up her HD before wiping it. In fact, he wouldn’t have wiped it at all, but would have used a good anti-virus and Malwarebytes to clean it.

    Dad’s snickering at Marie and enjoying every second of her frustration.

    Feb 1, 2011 at 8:45 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #6.1   Mel K

      Can you blame him?
      Mike was sick of chain email from her and her sisters promising good luck to spammers, animated cats playing piano and piglets dressed as tigers.

      I would have disabled her sound card too, if I were him. She only sent the card to have a dig at him.

      Feb 1, 2011 at 9:38 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #6.2   Odious

      I’ve wiped hard drives in cases where it was way faster and way easier – especially in the early 2000s. All IT peoples have had this happen in their family. Which is why I stopped helping them years ago. (Same for working on cars).

      Feb 1, 2011 at 10:38 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #6.3   GhostWriter bang

      There is plenty of malware now that can corrupt your hard drive, to the point where there is no fixing it; it must be reformatted. In most cases, you have to download the program and install it, rather than accidentally picking it up from a website or by opening an email. That’s why the programs are always named something like, “E-Z-Online Coupon MoneySaverz” so frugal Aunt Marie will obey the installation commands: “To begin SAVING MONEY you must first disable your McAfee and Kaspersky anti-virus programs…

      Feb 2, 2011 at 9:20 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #6.4   Ark

      I actually had to wipe my HD a couple of years back. I had something really nasty and neither Kaspersky nor Malwarebytes could get rid of it. So I backed up my personal files (I was certain that was NOT where whatever this was was operating from) and started over.

      It’s not uncommon.

      Feb 2, 2011 at 9:33 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #6.5   Twez

      Sometimes you have to nuke it from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

      Feb 2, 2011 at 8:12 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #6.6   Crisp Flows

      I had this happen to me too – I learned to love noscript and firefox since that stupid autoad/IE exploit. Anyways, It was still a good thing, It gave me an excuse to get a new box with the most recent hardware :D

      Who in the frick don’t keep track of their software? Seriously. Keep the top 7, get rid of the rest – it’ll slow down the scratch disk and the registry.

      Feb 4, 2011 at 5:36 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #6.7   grrltechie

      Yeah, no. I’ve worked on computers that were so badly infested with crapware that I could not even get antivirus programs or MalwareBytes to run. It was a struggle to backup what was in the My Documents folder because every action I took resulted in a pop up of some sort. Had to nuke it and start over. I have seen ones so bad that you could not save anything, they wouldn’t even boot up.

      So yes, it WAS the kindness of his heart that led him to deal with that mess. I’m not that kind, I charge everybody except my Mom. And she always at least feeds me a home cooked meal and so far hasn’t gotten her computer in such horrible shape to start with.

      Feb 9, 2011 at 3:15 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #7   Canthz_B bang

    By her “programs”, she probably means AA and NA. :mrgreen:

    Feb 1, 2011 at 11:38 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #8   hungrygrrl

    Pretty good handwriting. I’m sure its better when she’s not feeling snarky. And the stationery really makes it. Bravo Aunt Marie.

    Feb 2, 2011 at 12:12 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #9   Canthz_B bang

    Sure, go ahead and wipe the drive clean…just don’t flush what you’ve wiped down the toilet.
    Our pipes can’t handle big downloads!

    Feb 2, 2011 at 12:54 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #10   nyuu

    The royal “We”…

    Feb 2, 2011 at 7:42 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #11   Jon

    “Luv ya” really means “f*** ya”.

    Feb 2, 2011 at 9:58 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #12   aaa bang

    I swear I’ve seen this same basic thing on Not Always Right. Sans the family, of course. I’m guessing when Kristina’s dad started talking about backing up her computer, Aunt Marie’s eyes just kind of glazed over and she started thinking about whether effectively that anti-fungal cream was really working as well as it was supposed to. I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened every time somebody says she needs to do something more complex than copy-pasting. “What do you mean I had to start Windows in Safe Mode? Weren’t you talking about how old those leftovers are in the middle of that conversation about my computer?”

    Feb 2, 2011 at 10:06 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #13   joebob

    If “Dad” was a really good IT Guy, he would have had either a USB harddrive or flash drive or SOMETHING to at least backup her files. Reinstalling programs is a different story, but there are free alternatives to office, free music players, and all sorts of things that can be done aside from just clean installing Windows. I think it was a lackluster job by “Dad.” and the card implies that…

    Feb 2, 2011 at 10:24 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #13.1   Janellionaire

      As wife of the family IT guy, I always say you get what you pay for. If you want a professional to fix your computer just the way you want them to, hire someone. If you want to drag a helpless relative into the den every holiday to figure out “why it’s doing that” your options start disappearing quick.

      Feb 2, 2011 at 11:28 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #13.2   oi

      Sometimes the viruses are so bad it would not let you back up anything if you have not done before the infection. For example one of the trojan would not let the computer run more than 5 minutes. There is no way to back up data now. You have no option but strip your computer stark naked and reinstall everything. I doubt if the “professionals” would be able to save unbacked up data without charging $$$ that will buy you two new computers.

      Feb 2, 2011 at 1:05 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #13.3   Kathy

      I agree. You don’t wipe a hard drive without at least trying to backup data. It’s real easy to wipe a drive and reinstall Windows. It takes a better IT person to ask a lot of questions about what data there is, what programs they use (so you can go on the hunt for where data for that program resides), etc.

      Feb 2, 2011 at 4:58 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #13.4   FeRD bang

      And it takes a heroic moron of an IT person to care that much, when you’re being suckered in by some useless relative. Especially one who ignored all of your recommendations and advice about how not to get to that point in the first place, and brought it on themselves!

      Feb 2, 2011 at 9:20 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #13.5   Clumber

      As a Free Family IT person I can promise you that I always TRY to fix the problem in the way that will most reduce them calling me again. Trying to backup their narfed crap is on that short list. However, as many many with better diction than I have pointed out – sometimes burning it all with fire is the only solution. I have run into that several times myself and have recently started refusing to take steps that will kill their data and instead refer them to pay places.

      Yeah, being popular is not terribly important to me.

      Feb 3, 2011 at 8:42 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #13.6   RP

      If Auntie actually cared about her files she would have been doing regular backups herself, something he certainly told her to do, before she went and screwed up her computer so badly he had to wipe the drive & couldn’t back it up first.

      He cleaned up her computer. He told her what would happen. She’s the one who said she was OK with it. If she was really insistent on someone trying to back it up first then she should have stopped him from wiping it. This is her fault.

      Mar 2, 2011 at 10:30 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #14   Sandee

    I’m married to the family IT guy. Told him about this and said, “Hey, if you just wipe the hard drive every time from now on, pretty soon you won’t be the family IT guy any more. Problem solved!”

    Feb 2, 2011 at 11:57 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #15   Nunavut Guy

    Clara Bow was miles ahead of her time.

    Feb 2, 2011 at 12:26 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #16   Quite Contrary

    Dear Sam and Marie,
    I appreciate the note. Good job. Still need Sam to man up and learn how to fix his wife’s computer.
    Luv ya more, Mike

    Feb 2, 2011 at 1:10 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #17   Bob Loblaw

    Mike sleeps with the fishes.

    Feb 2, 2011 at 1:15 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #17.1   Canthz_B bang

      Mike sleeps with the Phishers.

      Feb 2, 2011 at 7:34 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #18   Pilgrimchick

    This proves that the guideline: “don’t help people” is the best strategy.

    Feb 2, 2011 at 3:20 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #18.1   FeRD bang

      Or, in its more widely-known form, “No good deed goes unpunished”.

      Feb 2, 2011 at 9:21 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #19   GhostWriter bang

    After spending hours working with IT Dad, I am happy to report that we were were able to recover all of Aunt Marie’s Facebook photos, as well as the majority of her email inbox.

    Feb 2, 2011 at 4:10 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #20   divaandwriter bang

    Dear Marie:

    I have been thinking hard about your problem, and have come to one conclusion:

    You are too stupid to own a computer, and you don’t seem to care. Instead, you prefer to endanger everyone on your email list by sending viruses all over the internet. Then, when your computer goes kaputt from all the malware on it, you call on your brother to bail you out, expect him to work miracles and get all passive-aggressive on him when he does his best to help you.

    Take some damned computer classes, learn how to operate the thing properly, and if you still get into trouble (which can happen even to the best of us), CALL A PROFESSIONAL!!


    Feb 3, 2011 at 9:24 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #20.1   Madrias

      A professional will just wipe the hard disk anyway.

      Feb 3, 2011 at 11:56 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #21   RP

    Seems like IT work is one of those things you should never do for free. If they’re not even going to appreciate that you helped them then why bother?

    Mar 2, 2011 at 10:55 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up


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