I like computers. I have worked in IT since before I left graduate school. I’m comfortable around really technical people: software developers/coders and the like. I am usually careful to say that I know my way around technical folks, but I’m not technical myself. I have an iPhone, I use my laptop wirelessly at work, at home, and even at the “cabin”, but I rely on smart colleagues and family members to give me access.
All that to say, I’m not really all that technical. I’ll readily admit this, or at least that’s what I thought. A few weeks ago, friends called and asked if I’d help them get one of their computers onto the other’s wireless network. I tried to beg off on the phone, I made excuses such as “my husband takes care of that for me”. They instantly said it was fine if he came too. Sigh. Knowing I’d never get him over to their home, I gave in and went to their place to play computer admin, knowing better.
So, it all started innocently enough. I messed around with their computer and indeed verified that they weren’t talking to each other. At that point, it would have been wise to raise my hands and say, “wow, I’m stumped, I really don’t know how to help. Gotta go!”
Instead, drawn in by their faith in me and their desperation, I kept trying. You see, the one that wasn’t communicating was a PC, so I looked up various “my PC won’t talk to my AirPort network” and hacked around. Eventually, I had hacked around enough that the AirPort network was completely inaccessible. At that point (thanks to the iPhone) I learned how to reboot an AirPort Extreme network with default settings.
At the end of the evening, after having torched and then re-setup my innocent friends’ wireless network without having given the PC access, I retreated home. Relieved to have gotten myself out of it.
That is, until the support phone call. “Hey, so I can’t print anymore, and I’m leaving in 20 minutes to go up north and I need the directions that are in my email”. Ummmmm. Wow. Yeah. Whoops. I tried to help, she elected to just hand copy the directions and said she’d get back to me when she returned from vacation.
I am guessing her printer was trying to talk to the wireless network I torched, and wasn’t electing to switch to the new network. How to fix that was completely beyond me. I complained to my husband, regretting and lamenting my own foolishness. He recommended I call a friend who actually is good at this kind of thing, and see if I could wheedle him into helping me. Eric agreed to help. The two of us went over, I stayed for a while, and then I left while I got it sorted out. I am grateful I didn’t do more harm, and grateful for Eric to have saved me and my innocent friends from my “helpfulness”.
I think the lessons I learned were:
- Be more clear about my limits.
- Ask for help.
- Eric rocks.