From the Front Desk Support Volunteers
Great Classes and SIGs Benefit HAL-PC Members
You can help us help you!
HAL-PC is a computer club that has various Special Interest Groups (SIGs) that cover the usage of a Personal Computer. HAL-PC also has many Basic Computer Classes covering the use and operation of the computer, as well as specific programs such as; Microsoft Word, Excel, Quick Books, even EBay!!
The members who volunteer on the Front Desk are simply amazed at the number of situations they come across wherein HAL-PC members and Internet users don’t seem to know what programs they are using on their own computers. The volunteer would ask questions such as; “What email program are you using?”, or “What web browser do you use?”, or “What operating system do you have?”, and the caller doesn’t know. For example, a person gets their emails every day; their email program fails (usually caused by an antivirus program such as NORTON), and they call HAL-PC to get help. When asked, "What email program you use?" they respond "I use HAL-PC" or simply, "I don't know. How do I find out?"
The odd thing is, EVERY time you start a program there is usually a “splash screen” that advertises what program you are using. Email programs such as; Outlook Express, Outlook 2000, Eudora, Thunderbird, etc., typically advertise themselves when they are opened the first time after the computer boots-up (starts). This is also true of the operating system. There are computer users who have been members for years, some even 15 years, who simply “don’t know” what they are using.
This lack of basic computer knowledge is frustrating to both the volunteer helping and the person asking for help. It delays troubleshooting, increasing the time the volunteer must spend on the phone helping that one person. If there are 2 volunteers on the Front Desk and 3 phone calls come in, one will not be answered. The longer a volunteer has to spend trying to decode the cryptic explanations a member gives, to try and uncover the problem, the more phone calls are missed.
It has been mentioned by the “PC Upgrade & Troubleshooting group” SIG Leader that some people bringing in their computers to be diagnosed, simply have a lack of basic computer knowledge causing the problem, and NOT a true technical issue. Taking a class and learning how to use their programs would have saved the trip for that member and the time spent by the Friday volunteers!
HAL-PC has hands-on computer classes in the Learning Center that can start one from the novice who “does not know where the on switch is” to those wanting more advanced computer skills. HAL-PC members can attend free SIGs covering Basic Internet use, to a more advanced Internet use. There are also SIGs on Computer Security, A+ and MCSE study groups. Every 2nd Saturday of the month the Windows 98 & XP (9am) and Internet 101 (1pm) SIGs meet and on every 2nd Friday of the month the Basic Internet (6pm) and Internet (7pm) SIGs meet. Also, the “Volunteer Help Committee” is a great resource for help on various software questions (for current members only!).
Before you call you should know the following:
- Your Member Number and/or your HAL-PC/HALNet Email Address.
- You should know or have your password handy.
- What Operating System (OS) are you using? Windows 98, Windows XP Home, Windows XP Professional, etc.
- What Email Program do you use to read your email? Outlook Express, Outlook 2000, Outlook XP (2002), Outlook 2003, Eudora, Netscape, Thunderbird, HAL-PC Web Mail, etc.
- What Web Browser do you use? Internet Explorer, Netscape, Firefox, etc.
- Are you a HALNet Dial-Up or ADSL user? Are you using another Internet Service Provider (ISP) such as Comcast (cable), ATT (SBC Yahoo!), etc.? (For HALNet ADSL, please power cycle [turn off, then back on] the ADSL modem and any other network devices before calling HAL-PC. See www.hal-pc.org - “ADSL TROUBLE?” or www.hal-pc.org/adsltrouble.html for details.)
HAL-PC is a club of “members helping members”, however, people should strive to learn to help themselves. The Leisure Learning Center with Bill Stewart has beginning computer classes, and HAL-PC has “hands-on” computer classes for beginners (at a reduced cost for members). For free help, the HAL-PC member can attend the Windows 98 & XP, Internet 101, Basic Internet, and many other SIGs.
The Front Desk Support volunteers encourage members to learn some computer skills, make use of your membership, take a class or attend a SIG! A little computer knowledge can make life (for all) simpler.
Enjoy your computer even more!