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Top Tech Questions at Your Holiday Gathering

If you are the go to tech person in your family, you might be dreading the upcoming holiday gatherings because you will undoubtedly be cornered by a few of your family members about their technology questions. I recently read an article “How to survive Holiday Family Tech Support”, that is a survival guide for the tech questions you will be asked at your family gatherings.

The questions you will get will most likely be very vague, and without more information you will not be able to give good answers. Here are a few of the common problems you will encounter:

1. “My computer is broken. How do I fix it?”

This one is inevitable if you have been dubbed “the computer guy” (or gal). For the non-tech savvy, it can be hard to explain what exactly is wrong with their computer, especially if there isn’t an obvious error message. Here are some steps to have them follow to that might help out:

  • Call Tech support, they might be able to help fix it. After all, that’s what they’re there for!
  • Use an online back up solution to save important files. Data recovery can be a pain if something happens to your hard drive.
  • Get Anti-virus/Anti-malware software, and use caution while browsing the web. Avoid downloading things like browser toolbars and smiley packs for your IM.
  • Upgrade the computer’s warranty to cover a wide range of problems in the future. I know, most people are programmed to say “no” to extended warranties, but in the case of computers, a good warranty can go a long way.

Even though it was written for Thanksgiving, an article I found called 15+ free Windows apps to help you tackle Thanksgiving tech support has a good list of programs and utilities to help you diagnose and repair many problems – and applies to any holiday gathering, really.

If you have tried everything you can think of, and the computer still won’t work right, then it may be time for a replacement. Many users are finding that tablets and laptops are working for their needs more than desktop computers, so a replacement device may not be as expensive as you think.

2. “My internet isn’t working!”

Apart from the obvious default tech-support question “Is it plugged in?”, this also could be a number of different things. Once you have checked to make sure all the wires are plugged in where they need to be, the people that will be able to help the most with internet connection troubles are the tech support people at your ISP. If they insist everything is fine and you’re still having problems, consider switching to another provider.

There are a lot more choices for internet providers today than your standard cable and DSL companies. Many people are moving to mobile devices for their internet needs, so if you have or are considering a laptop or tablet, you may want to look at mobile broadband.

3. “What should I get for (tech-enthusiast friend)?”

The big question – it can often be harder to answer than the “my computer is broken” question. What has to be identified first before the question can be answered, is what does the person already have? A good go-to for gifts is a device that can do everything, such as a smartphone or tablet. If they already have one, are there any accessories they would find useful? For iPhone/iPad users, an iTunes gift card can be used for app purchases too – which would be useful for holding Angry Birds tournaments.

By now, you should be well equipped to answer most of the questions your friends and/or relatives can throw at you, leaving plenty of time for cookies, fudge, and – most importantly – egg nog.

If you’re the grumpy type and don’t want to attempt to help anyone this year, you can always use these less-explored options:
*WARNING – Using these options may cause tension and unhappiness. Proceed with caution.*

  • Change the subject and hope they don’t remember.
  • Avoid everyone completely. They can’t ask you anything if they can’t find you!
  • Keep your mouth full of holiday treats at all times, preventing you from answering any questions (or speaking to anyone, for that matter).
  • Wear this t-shirt, simply pointing to its message for anyone who ignores it.

Have a safe and happy holiday!