It won’t let me…

As a geek, I often get to help others with computer problems. I try really hard to have a good attitude about it, but there are some phrases that I am tired of hearing. All of these phrases mean nothing. There must be more information you can provide.

“I can’t get into …”

Why can’t you? Are your fingers broken? What happens when you try?

“I keep getting an error message when I …”

What does the error message say? (The usual response is, “I don’t know. Something about … or something.”) In the old days of Windows 95, error messages were pretty useless. Nowadays most geeks can make sense of them and can often solve your problem quicker if you provide the exact error message.

My favorite non-descriptive phrase has to be, “It won’t let me…”

We’ll have to assume that “it” is the computer you’re using. Then again, “it” could be a website or some other type of system. Maybe “it” is a piece of hardware. Either way, this really doesn’t help. Once again, you really should provide more information about the problem. Most it’s don’t have a personal grudge against you.

Here is a helpful way to report a computer problem:

“I’m having a problem with [something descriptive]. When I do [describe what you were doing], my computer responds with [provide the actual error message].”

Or, replace the last part with something like:

“my computer locks up.” (or shuts off–there is a difference)


“my screen returns to the previous screen.” (not, “it kicks me out.”)

It’s all about the inputs and outputs for a geek. We want to know exactly what your INPUT was and the resulting OUTPUT. Otherwise you’re just not helping yourself. A geek will have to ask more questions to find out what you are talking about. Many geeks aren’t likely to ask those questions, so where does that leave you?


One Response

  1. I thought I should leave a comment, but at first it wouldn’t let me. I kept getting an error message about something or other– I really don’t know. Then I couldn’t get into what I needed to in order to do what I wanted to do that the computer wouldn’t let me do in the first place which is when I got that error message about something– I don’t know. It finally just locked up or something because I guess it kicked me out of whatever I was trying to do.

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