Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

Home

www.google.co.uk


Recent Comments


Monthly Archives


Most recent entries


Search


Advanced Search


Other Blogs I write for

Brian Micklethwait's Education Blog

CNE Competition
CNE Intellectual Property
Samizdata
Transport Blog


Blogroll

2 Blowhards
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adloyada
Adventures in Capitalism
Alan Little
Albion's Seedling
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Alex Singleton
AngloAustria
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Biased BBC
Bishop Hill
BLDG BLOG
Bloggers Blog
Blognor Regis
Blowing Smoke
Boatang & Demetriou
Boing Boing
Boris Johnson
Brazen Careerist
Bryan Appleyard
Burning Our Money
Cafe Hayek
Cato@Liberty
Charlie's Diary
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
Chicago Boyz
China Law Blog
Cicero's Songs
City Comforts
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Clay Shirky
Climate Resistance
Climate Skeptic
Coffee & Complexity
Coffee House
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Contra Niche
Contrary Brin
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Скрипучая беседка
CrozierVision
Dave Barry
Davids Medienkritik
David Thompson
Deleted by tomorrow
deputydog
diamond geezer
Dilbert.Blog
Dizzy Thinks
Dodgeblogium
Don't Hold Your Breath
Douglas Carswell Blog
dropsafe
Dr Robert Lefever
Dr. Weevil
ecomyths
engadget
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
English Cut
English Russia
EU Referendum
Ezra Levant
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
Flickr blog
Freeborn John
Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
ft.com/maverecon
Fugitive Ink
Future Perfect
FuturePundit
Gaping Void
Garnerblog
Gates of Vienna
Gizmodo
Global Warming Politics
Greg Mankiw's Blog
Guido Fawkes' blog
HE&OS
Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
House of Dumb
Iain Dale's Diary
Ideas
Idiot Toys
IMAO
Indexed
India Uncut
Instapundit
Intermezzo
Jackie Danicki
James Delingpole
James Fallows
Jeffrey Archer's Official Blog
Jessica Duchen's classical music blog
Jihad Watch
Joanne Jacobs
Johan Norberg
John Redwood
Jonathan's Photoblog
Kristine Lowe
Laissez Faire Books
Languagehat
Last of the Few
Lessig Blog
Libertarian Alliance: Blog
Liberty Alone
Liberty Dad - a World Without Dictators
Lib on the United Kingdom
Little Man, What Now?
listen missy
Loic Le Meur Blog
L'Ombre de l'Olivier
London Daily Photo
Londonist
Mad Housewife
Mangan's Miscellany
Marginal Revolution
Mark Wadsworth
Media Influencer
Melanie Phillips
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Michael Jennings
Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal
Mick Hartley
More Than Mind Games
mr eugenides
Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
My Boyfriend Is A Twat
My Other Stuff
Natalie Solent
Nation of Shopkeepers
Neatorama
neo-neocon
Never Trust a Hippy
NO2ID NewsBlog
Non Diet Weight Loss
Normblog
Nurses for Reform blog
Obnoxio The Clown
Oddity Central
Oliver Kamm
On an Overgrown Path
One Man & His Blog
Owlthoughts of a peripatetic pedant
Oxford Libertarian Society /blog
Patri's Peripatetic Peregrinations
phosita
Picking Losers
Pigeon Blog
Police Inspector Blog
PooterGeek
Power Line
Private Sector Development blog
Public Interest.co.uk
Publius Pundit
Quotulatiousness
Rachel Lucas
RealClimate
Remember I'm the Bloody Architect
Rob's Blog
Sandow
Scrappleface
Setting The World To Rights
Shane Greer
Shanghaiist
SimonHewittJones.com The Violin Blog
Sinclair's Musings
Slipped Disc
Sky Watching My World
Social Affairs Unit
Squander Two Blog
Stephen Fry
Stuff White People Like
Stumbling and Mumbling
Style Bubble
Sunset Gun
Survival Arts
Susan Hill
Teblog
Techdirt
Technology Liberation Front
The Adam Smith Institute Blog
The Agitator
The AntRant
The Becker-Posner Blog
The Belgravia Dispatch
The Belmont Club
The Big Blog Company
The Big Picture
the blog of dave cole
The Corridor of Uncertainty (a Cricket blog)
The Croydonian
The Daily Ablution
The Devil's Advocate
The Devil's Kitchen
The Dissident Frogman
The Distributed Republic
The Early Days of a Better Nation
The Examined Life
The Filter^
The Fly Bottle
The Freeway to Serfdom
The Future of Music
The Futurist
The Happiness Project
The Jarndyce Blog
The London Fog
The Long Tail
The Lumber Room
The Online Photographer
The Only Winning Move
The Policeman's Blog
The Road to Surfdom
The Sharpener
The Speculist
The Surfer
The Wedding Photography Blog
The Welfare State We're In
things magazine
TigerHawk
Tim Blair
Tim Harford
Tim Worstall
tomgpalmer.com
tompeters!
Transterrestrial Musings
UK Commentators - Laban Tall's Blog
UK Libertarian Party
Unqualified Offerings
Violins and Starships
Virginia Postrel
Vodkapundit
WebUrbanist
we make money not art
What Do I Know?
What's Up With That?
Where the grass is greener
White Sun of the Desert
Why Evolution Is True
Your Freedom and Ours


Websites


Mainstream Media

BBC
Guardian
Economist
Independent
MSNBC
Telegraph
The Sun
This is London
Times


Syndicate

RSS 1.0
RSS 2.0
Atom
Feedburner
Podcasts


Categories

Advertising
Africa
Anglosphere
Architecture
Art
Asia
Atheism
Australasia
Billion Monkeys
Bits from books
Bloggers and blogging
Books
Brian Micklethwait podcasts
Brians
Bridges
Business
Career counselling
Cartoons
Cats and kittens
China
Civil liberties
Classical music
Comedy
Comments
Computer graphics
Cranes
Crime
Current events
Democracy
Design
Digital photographers
Drones
Economics
Education
Emmanuel Todd
Environment
Europe
Expression Engine
Family
Food and drink
France
Friends
Getting old
Globalisation
Healthcare
History
How the mind works
India
Intellectual property
Japan
Kevin Dowd
Language
Latin America
Law
Libertarianism
Links
Literature
London
Media and journalism
Middle East and Islam
Movies
Music
My blog ruins
My photographs
Open Source
Opera
Other creatures
Painting
Photography
Podcasting
Poetry
Politics
Pop music
Propaganda
Quote unquote
Radio
Religion
Roof clutter
Russia
Scaffolding
Science
Science fiction
Sculpture
Signs and notices
Social Media
Society
Software
South America
Space
Sport
Technology
Television
The internet
The Micklethwait Clock
Theatre
This and that
This blog
Transport
Travel
USA
Video
War


Saturday October 22 2005

Earlier in the week I reestablished contact with Mark Rousell, who is now, again, my computer GP.  I missed him.  He was unavoidably engaged otherwise.

I am often frustrated, not so much by computer experts as such (although I do emit the occasional howl of impotent misery), as by my dependence upon them.  And what frustrates – actually, the word is “scares” - me about most of these guys is that they can each of them tell me something very important and clever, but usually can’t, for one reason or another, either because they can’t, or just as likely, because they are too busy sorting out a similar aspect of some other person’s problems, help me with what I really want help with.  Which is: everything. Yes, that’s it, that’s what a lot of us want sorted out with our computers.  Everything.

After I have had the help of one of these other experts, I then have another dozen things that I have to remember.  I’m out of my depth, and now I have to swim with few more little weights attached to my brain.  And the knowledge that I will not remember all these things is what scares me, and makes me reluctant, as it were, to commit, even to a casual date.  These experts tend to be specialists.  They sort out some of your problems.  But that still leaves all the others, which they are understandably reluctant to get involved in.  They just want to help you, and then get out of there and get back to their real stuff.  Each specialist has his own preferences and sorts out things according to his own little ways and likes and dislikes, and everything still works, but remembering it all is nearly impossible.  The more help you get from such people, the harder it gets.

Mark is different.  Mark is what we call in Britain a General Practioner, but of personal computers.  A GP.  He has recently visited me twice.  First, he did a general sort out of my email difficulties, did a bit of scanning for spybots (whatever a spybot is), reassured me about certain strange emails based on hijacking my email address, suggested a printer-cum-scanner that sounds just right for me, and helped out with several other things that I have already forgotten about.  This means, by the way, that where it says contact at the top left, you can now actually contact me.  This will be a mixed blessing, I expect, but, I can now report that does now get to me.

Then, last night, my computer simply stopped.  I rang Mark at once, and described the symptoms.  He made a ninety percent certain diagnosis, which turned out to be right, that it was the power unit, and immediately came round (i.e. this afternoon) with another power unit, which he installed, on his hands and knees, with his box of tools, and had it working straight away.  The coincidence of him getting back in touch, and then me needing him for an emergency fix like this is still making me sweat.  What I would have done without him, I dare not even speculate.

I know people who know most of the things that Mark knows separately, but I know no one else who knows all the things he knows, and who is willing to place all his knowledge, of everything, at my service, for a very reasonable fee.  Plus, his attitude is so good.  He doesn’t radiate even the faintest whiff of that geek-vibe that says you are stupid for not knowing personal computers as well as he knows them.  He gets what being a non-geek is like.  In other words, he is not himself actually a geek.

The reason I am telling you all this, instead of just thanking the guy personally, is that Mark is now engaged in getting a business going in which he offers the kind of stuff he is now doing for me to several dozen other similar persons.  He will soon, almost certainly, be pulling together into one set-up my email, webhosting, web-back-up, etc. etc., thereby replacing and rationalising all my current and chaotic and hopeless uncoordinated arrangements – and he could do the same for you, if you are the sort who needs such an everything service.  And if anything then malfunctions, he can sort it out for you.  I could ramble on further but by now you surely get the idea.  I really recommend this guy.

Not everyone needs someone like Mark.  Many computer users are, as it were, their own computer GPs.  They can keep track of everything, and revel in being good at that, and in coordinating the various experts they sometimes call in for particular matters.  But for a person like me, who lost the plot of what goes on under the bonnet about two weeks after I bought my first computer, Mark is just the sort of ally I need.

Not, however, if you live in Alaska.  Not yet.  Since Mark is an expert in such things as teleconferencing, communications and such like, he is well placed in due course to run a stable of globe-trotting trouble-shooters and advise them about what to do, rather the way photocopier service engineers are always in mobile phone contact with each other and with their bosses now, only cleverer, with cameras involved for instance.  However, Mark said a number of things this afternoon in favour of this attitude, to the effect that face-to-face on-the-spotness is often necessary with computers, because you can do only so much on the phone, or even though a magic programme he has that he can use to take over your computer from a distance and sort it all out for you.  He could not, for instance, have replaced my power unit today by any other method than actually coming here, and then checking that everything worked.  So what I am saying is, if you like the sound of this service, and live in or around London, he could be your man.  But London would probably be best, for the time being.

The one thing that Mark has not tended to bother with is blogs and blogging, which, since I am immersed in it so much, and actually am starting to understand and to understand the workings of, I will continue to draw in other specialist help.

Blogs are not the answer to all information-spreading problems, Mark says, and I agree.  However, I did very tentatively suggest to Mark that a blog might help him with his specific business problem.  He is great at what he does, but finds it hard to put the word out about what that is.  There are, in this life, those that do most of it, and there are those that get most of the credit for doing it, the overlap being incomplete.  Mark is definitely in the doers column, and he now relies on word of mouth, without quite knowing how to stir it up sufficiently.  Yet he does not lack verbal fluency.  He just can’t afford expensive advertising.  So, I suggested that it might make sense to include a blog as part of his – at present somewhat antiseptic and impersonal – web presence.  That is not intended as a criticism.  This website is only at a very early stage of its existence, and Mark is the first to admit that he needs to do lots more to it.  At least he has a website.  But, a blog might help to get him past that “Who is this guy anyway?” barrier.  He would explain things like his typical customer problems, and typical answers.  Satisfied customers like me could comment, and link to him, and ask things and be told things.  He would come across as a real person, and a real person who could be on your side too.

In a way, Mark is a lot like this bespoke tailor who, I believe, did wonders for his marketing by setting up his blog.  Mark, to switch metaphors yet again, is like a bespoke personal computer guy.