Hoping The Phone Doesn’t Ring

It’s a curious business I operate in. When I fix someone’s computer, the first thing that enters my mind when I leave their house or they collect it is: “I hope the phone doesn’t ring”.

It’s simply a case of fear that I’ve made a mistake. Normally I want the phone to ring, because it usually means a new customer is on the way. But, at those specific moments, the phone ringing would mean I hadn’t fixed the problem I just thought I had.

Until yesterday, this had never actually happened to me. But I guess it was bound to happen eventually. It seems that my diagnosis of a problem was incorrect. Sadly, this means me now having to take time out of my day today to make amends, at no extra cost to them.

The big issue though is that I’m still not certain what the problem is. There is one other possibility, but it requires me to turn into a serious PC Tech to diagnose it… and that is learning how to use a multimeter. This is a device that apparently will help me test the voltages being delivered by the power supply. I have one already, but have never really figured out what the hell to do with it.

But today I have to, otherwise I’m going to look a fool. The only other way would be for me to lend them a working power supply and see if it solves the problem over the period of a week. That would mean going back next week, which is very inconvenient.

Apart from this snag, the PC world has been treating me quite well this week. I’ve had quite a few customers and even sold a new computer. This has to be something I keep working on as I want this to be the real future of my business. It’s the bit I enjoy most and is the most convenient for me.

Anyway… things aren’t too bad for me at the moment, especially if I can resolve this problem today. I felt pretty good last night until the dreaded phone call. Worse was the fact that the customer only phoned me a whole 24 hours after they’d taken it away. So I was, legitimately, thinking all was well.

That’s the problem with intermittent faults. They bite you on the arse when you least expect it.

Meanwhile, my cleaning job is boring me to tears and giving me physical problems in my back and shoulders. I need to stop it, but I need the cash. I’ve set a limit: no more than two more weeks of it.

And the house move? Progressing slowly… but it’s definitely going to happen. Very exciting…

Bomb Site

It’s not been a particularly exciting week. What, you expected me to report something else? Don’t forget we’re in a recession. This could carry on for years.

And maybe it really is a recession after all. I have long doubted that this particular recession, the first I have ever lived through with any kind of sentience (the last recession in the early 90s I was too young for), was actually causing harm to real people. After all, mortgage rates couldn’t be any lower. Unless you’d been made unemployed, the vast majority of people seem to be enjoying “a good recession”.

With interest rates so low, there is no incentive to save. That is deliberate. Even the VAT cut, though only a small amount, was an indication that the government wants us mere citizens to spend.

But none of that seems to be filtering through to me. I get visitors to my site, but they tend to disappear as quickly as they arrive. Some of these visitors have been enticed to my site via Google Scamwords, which costs me in a region of 10 to 40p per visitor. But I can safely say that not a single one of these people have been converted into a sale. That’s a very poor return.

Meanwhile, I am running a classified ad in the local papers again. And once more, not a sausage. Do you think someone is trying to tell me something?

Amidst all this wreckage of a failing business, I still do have the odd bit of work. Fortunately, I still have some friends (much to my amazement), and word of mouth is the best form of advertising after all. So this week, I spent my time building a computer for one such friend. It was an entertaining experience, filled with my usual mistakes and cut hands from cheap PC cases and badly soldered motherboards. But the net result is indeed a small profit, one which helps make up for the tremendous failure that is classified advertising.

In the midst of this work, however, my room, which doubles as my “business” “office”, was total carnage. I should have taken a photo when I had the chance to illustrate what I mean, but it was a significant mess. Tools everywhere, screws all over the place, wires, boxes, components, and me kneeling in the middle of it all trying to make sense of what I was doing wrong. The misery was nearly compounded when my computer, that’s this one I’m on now, decided to freeze when I opened the case to test a fan. I must have knocked something, and then it wouldn’t boot, freezing at the BIOS test stage. Fortunately, it came back to life for no apparent reason.

But, when you’re building a computer, it is a necessary evil. I am certain there’s nothing I can do about it, because I’m normally such an organised and disciplined person. The wreckage was such that I had to leave it there overnight, which nearly caused a disaster when I stumbled from the lightswitch to my bed in total darkness…

Fortunately, it’s gone now, and in its place is a completed machine, one that I’m very impressed with. Frankly, I should be given the price my friend was willing to pay for a top-spec computer, but still I can’t help but suffer a pang of guilt about making money out of my friends…

Here’s hoping for a better week to come.