Information, Technology & Consulting

The IT Help Desk: A Computer’s Trip to the Doctor’s Office


By Hoi Wong '17

Since I started working at the IT Help Desk, a computer no longer looks like an object to me. Computers are like human beings, needing maintenance and good care. A trip to the IT Desk is a trip to the doctor’s office, minus the blood.

Like those my age, I have grown up surrounded by technology. I started using computers when I was five years old, back when people slowly switched from Windows 98 to Windows 2000. I remember the days of constant buffering and inescapable frozen desktops.

In my family, I am known as the one to fix…or break computers. I was either praised for helping solve a computer problem, or blamed for the problem itself, like the time I got a virus by installing antivirus, but thanks to improvements to computers, those are issues of the past.

I am not your typical computer wiz. I do not know how computers work, and neither do I know why certain fixes work. I can’t give you a list of command prompts and neither can I tell you what a computer’s keychain does, but by virtue of being a life-long consumer of technology, computers have just somehow clicked for me. Computers are designed for consumers; three desktops and three laptops later, I may well be the definition of the typical computer consumer.

Coming into the IT Desk, I had little background in the “behind-the-scenes” work of computers. Hesitant, I went into the job with only the experience of being a user and not a fixer. I have always been the patient, and rarely ever the doctor. As the computers started trickling in to the doctor’s office, though, I noticed many had the same symptoms and illnesses. Like the common cold, helping someone connect onto Dartmouth Secure was as routine as clockwork.

Similar to health issues, there are two types of computer problems: those that arise from poor maintenance and care and those that come from sheer bad luck. Like cancer, a broken piece of hardware on a computer is sometimes inevitable and happens only to a small subset of the population. For such cases, the only treatment we can provide is damage control; we back up the client’s data and let the Dartmouth Computer Store, which takes care of hardware issues, do the surgery.

On the flipside, most of the issues we face come from poor treatment and care of the computers. A cluttered desktop and an occasional drop of the machine are grounds for both hardware and software failure. By simply deleting unnecessary files, regularly installing updates, and turning off the computer daily, it is amazing how one can turn a slow, buggy device, into a near mint condition piece of effective hardware.

I often recommend our clients to treat their computers as they would their own bodies: turn off the computer because it needs rest just like us and install antivirus just as we would receive vaccines.

Through working at the IT desk, I have learned to take better care of my own computer and to view it as an extension of myself, requiring just as much care and maintenance.

Hoi Wong is a rising Sophomore (’17) from Southern California planning to major in Economics and minor in Psychology. He began working at the IT Help Desk in February and is an Apple enthusiast. He most enjoys fixing issues with Mac computers and helping clients better make use of and take care of their computers.

Information, Technology & Consulting