Fa la la la laaaaa la la la.

At the time of this writing, it’s Thanksgiving Eve and I’m battening down the proverbial hatches. We’re not doing any traveling to speak of, and since my in-laws moved back to Oklahoma, this is the first Thanksgiving we’re not even heading to the suburbs. Driving in Chicago is always fun, but throw in the holidays, road construction, and irate shoppers, and you have a recipe for serious crankiness.

We’ve done most of our shopping online, but naturally we still have a few “brick and mortar” errands to run, which is when I grit my teeth and dive into the blacktop abyss. Parking lots are the worst… and they seem to keep building new shopping centers next to the old ones, making navigating certain parts of the city a study in the psychology of stress.

And speaking of the holidays, I’m sure all the major PC and peripheral makers are hoping to rack up good numbers. The holidays are always a fun time for IT support professionals… when folks get and give high tech goodies that may require some additional help in setting up. I always expect to get a spike in calls right after Christmas. And then there is the “friends and family” side of this equation. I think ZDnet’s Ed Bott covers this phenomenon pretty well in this recent post.

I wouldn’t be in this business if I wasn’t patient and professional. And by and large, I really love my clients. But there are a few that really test my patience. For example, I had a customer that I had to “fire” a couple years ago. Then I’ve got a few high maintenance customers like this one. But this post is about a relatively new customer, albeit one I’ve already written about. I had a house call with her this morning, one that I admit I didn’t look forward to.

I’d helped her out a couple of times recently using CoPilot — tweaking some things like templates in Word and Toolbars in Outlook Express. I actually spent an hour on the phone with her on the Toolbar issue. I really wish I had an audio capture, because the phone conversation was unbelievable. Today’s house call was to help her install a new APC battery backup unit.

Once I got there, I could immediately see why she needed my help. Her PC sits inside of a rickety computer armoire inside her mini-kitchen. I say “mini-” because there was hardly room for both of us to stand in the same space. We had to remove her printer from the bottom cubby hole to reveal where the old UPS was, then move all the power cords to the new one, remove the old one, then shove the new UPS to the back of the shelf to make room for the printer. The big problem was that the desk was too close to the wall for the plug from the old UPS to be pulled through so we could take it out completely. Likewise, there wasn’t enough room to pull the power cable from the new unit to where the power outlet was.

A simple matter of pulling the armoire away from the wall, right? Nope… the real problem was that bottom edges of the desk had, ahem, fused to the kitchen floor. We had to remove all the nick-nacks and liquor bottles from the top of the armoire so I could safely apply enough pressure to break the seal. Once I did that, I was able to wobble it away from the wall enough so the power cords could be pulled through.

So we got the old UPS unplugged, and the new one setup in its place. I upgraded the APC PowerChute application on her PC and showed her where to look for the history of power “events”. UPSes are always a good thing to have, but she had an especially good reason because they were doing construction on the floor above her in her condo building, and brown-outs were becoming more and more common.

I really do like this client — as much as it may come off that I don’t. She’s nothing but nice to me, but I always know that something as simple as adjusting the scroll speed on her mouse wheel will be a 45 minute ordeal. And then there is the whole notion that she does her business (writing) on a five-year-old PC with an eight-year-old OS (Windows 2000).

Well, I’m signing off. Have a great Thanksgiving weekend, Gnomies, and I hope to be posting again real soon.