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Do Not Annoy IT Part IV

2010-01-24

Category: General

This is the fourth and final installment of Do Not Annoy IT. Part I, Part II, Part III

What should you do about all of this?

Though you don't have to be the tech's best friend, you should be polite, professional, and respectful. These geeks have to spend huge amounts of time trying to keep up with the latest technology. They are experts in their fields and should be shown proper deference.

Please be patient. Most I.T. departments are stretched thin with too much work and not enough workers. They will get to you as soon as they can. Most organizations have rules about who gets helped first and the I.T. guy may have to be somewhere else based on those rules even if you just need something quick.

Also be aware that the computer is not a magic box; it is an intricate machine. The software on computers, including your cell phone, was written by large numbers of people in different places and working for different organizations all at different times. The fact that the software works at all is amazing. All this complexity means that solving your problem may require real research and more complexity, not just sacrificing a chicken.

Take a moment, once in a while, to realize that the technology around you that is working has I.T. people behind it who keep it working. They aren't there just when things break; they are performing maintenance all the time. They also make improvements as resources allow so you can have an even better experience later.

Please note that many problems with computer systems are actually caused by authorized users and not system defects. If you must use technology as part of your job, it is also part of your job to know how to use the technology properly. If you are unsure of something, ask and then pay attention to the answer. Most I.T. people don't mind helping you learn, but you have to do your part too. It's like when you were in school; you have to take notes and be ready for the test. Remember that the grade on your test shows up in your bank account every two weeks.

Many I.T. pros, especially System Administrators, seem to try to keep you from doing things. This can seem rude. In actuality, these people are protecting you and everyone else on the system. Things like malicious software can operate with your credentials. If you get an infected file and you have a lot of permissions, the virus on that file now has all of those permissions. Just as important, setting up lots of exceptions to established rules takes time that is not usually available, and it adds complexity that increases the likelihood of a system crash. You really are better off, in most cases, doing without extra permissions.

Information Technology covers a wide range of specializations. The System Administrator may have a general understanding of your database, but questions about the database should go to the Database Administrator. Likewise, programmers may understand the theory behind networks, but they can't be expected to know all the details.

Here's an analogy to help you understand this point. Imagine a real sports fanatic who knows everything about his favorite football team and everyone they ever played. Now ask him who the current world fencing champion is. Shouldn't he know the answer since it is a sports question? No, fencing is a different specialization of sport from football. Likewise, programming is different from system administration, which is different from help desk, and so on. Please make note that the I.T. guy to whom you are talking may not be an expert in your particular question but still be an expert in his or her own field.

The work of an I.T. professional is usually mental as much or more than it is physical. Just because the tech doesn't appear to be doing something, it doesn't mean that he or she is available for interruptions. Once you've interrupted, the pro will often have to start over again to collect the thoughts that scattered with your approach.

Finally, the I.T. techs aren't there to troubleshoot your home computer (unless that is the particular business.) Unless you are really good friends with the tech, please don't tie up their time with lots of questions about your home systems. Also, don't expect them to come to your house in their spare time to help you set up your network. This is work for which they are paid. It's ok to offer to pay them for this extra work, but don't be offended if they turn you down. Most I.T. pros work long hours and spend their free time trying to stay up to date on the technology. If they have families as well, they really don't have the spare time to help you out. It's nothing personal.

Mostly, by treating the I.T. pros like they are competent professionals who do work that you don't want to do, you should be able to get along with them fine. Be polite and patient. Show some respect. Most techs don't want to have to take over the world and establish a technocracy, but they will do it if they have to.


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