I am posting this in the hopes some of you may find it humorous. I am not an IT pro or anything, but I'm good enough with computers that I'm the guy who friends and family call for geeky help.
Yesterday I went to assist a 65-ish guy and his 70-ish sister with scanning and saving historic photos. They had both warned me that they are completely computer illiterate. So, they have a Dell printer/scanner hooked to a Dell desktop. Piece of cake.
Oops, wait. The first thing I'm told is that we need to rewire the router and/or the DSL modem for some reason. Without even understanding what we are trying to accomplish, I obey. Then, a new Asus laptop is fired up, and I am handed a sheet with instructions, courtesy of Jimmy. Oh, see, the Dell belongs to *Jimmy*. Jimmy has some VERY VERY important files on the Dell. Jimmy (not real name) has an important IT job 400 miles away. Jimmy is the woman's son. We must be VERY careful so as to not disturb Jimmy's files.
The first instruction is to turn the scanner on. Done. Instruction #2 is to click on the red X at the bottom right of the screen to.... do something... I forget what. Now, in a couple decades of fiddling with computers I don't believe I can remember the act of clicking a red X ever doing anything other than to either close something or for a red X to serve as some sort of error icon. There is no red X at the bottom right of either computer's screen.
"Let's call Jimmy"
So, as I refocus my concentration to the scanner, they phone Jimmy. I haven't yet spent 2 minutes working on the task at hand, and they have thrown in the towel. I put a sample photo on the scanner, and find the "scan" directive. I then push the green "play" button. The machine reverts to a message informing me that it is downloading some sort of software. Meanwhile, they are furiously conversing with Jimmy as to the details of our predicament. They hand the phone to me. Jimmy seems like a nice-enough fellow. I tell him we're doing fine, and we'll call back if we have any problems. I hang up.
The scanner has completed the "download", so I try to make it scan again. The same thing happens.
Okay, let's try operating the scanner from the Dell. I find the application, I scan the photo, and I show them the new file. Bingo!
"Now how do we get it to the other computer?" No sense in basking in the sweet smell of success, huh? Okay, well, I inform them that there are any number of ways to do that. I say "Let's have a look at this new computer." I am told that we must give the scanner its commands wirelessly, from the Asus laptop. Jimmy's files are simply too valuable. Well, let's see... I open Network and Sharing. There is the scanner's icon! I click it, and am asked for a network user ID and password. They have no idea what that may be.
"We'll just buy a new scanner."
"Hmmm, can I just ask you this? Are Jimmy's files backed up?"
"I can do that for you if you'd like."
"NO NO NO NO NO NO, don't do that!!!"
Alright, so I decide to plug the scanner directly into the Asus. I grab the USB cord from behind the scanner and begin to follow it behind the desk to the back of the Dell. I get half-way and am then told "DON'T UNPLUG THE PRINTER!!!!!!!! If Jimmy loses his files he'll kill us!!!"
There's more to the story, but I digress. I offered them some tips about how to get a good deal on a new printer/scanner as I left. I'll go back and help them when they get it.