2009-08-08 / News

Lighten up: Every family needs a Freak Squad member

By Dawn Weber

Geek Squad? We don't need a stinkin' Geek Squad.

That's because I am the Freak Squad, my family's dubious answer to Best Buy's famous techno-wizards. I unpack the computers, plug them in and install the software. I set up the cell phones, wire the televisions, defrag the hard drives, run speaker wire, and set up many a Playstation and Wii. And that was just Saturday.

They may not realize it, but most families have a Freak Squad member. Some dummy like me who has the little bit of smarts it takes put the yellow plug into the yellow hole. Or click 'next' every three seconds until the software works.

Sure, Freak Squad members have other names. 'Suckers' comes to mind. 'Doormats' works. Also 'chumps' seems to fit. Call us what you will, but fun troubleshooting problems like these are all ours, all the time:

Husband: Honey! The Internet isn't working again!

Son: Hey Mommy! Can you help me with this website? How do you spell 'addictivegamestoruinmybrain. com'?

Daughter: Mom! My Ipod won't turn on again!

Grandma (on phone, in oldlady, guilt-inducing voice): When can you come up home and connect my digital TV converter boxes?

Somehow, my family is under the impression that their technological dilemmas are 1. my problem or 2. my fault, but 3. they aren't and 4. I do accept cash.

You see, Freak Squad members never get paid. If we were to charge our loved ones for the geekiness we so generously give, they could not afford us. We'd have six-figure annual salaries and condos in the Keys.

Our lack of salary makes Freak Squad members - how you say - 'cheap.' Why should our family members pay someone to setup a gadget, when it's as simple following a few prompts? Why should they give Best Buy hundreds of dollars to reinstall Windows when we can do it for them - for free?

Warning: you get what you pay for. True, we Squad members can help our families and friends with some minor technodilemmas. But we know only enough to be dangerous.

Take antivirus software: Methinks sometimes it doth protect too much. The very software designed to shield us from viruses, spy ware, spam, popups and ourselves has become much more annoying than any of that.

Like clicking on Internet Explorer to get on, well, the Internet. Here's the general dialogue between my laptop's antivirus software and myself:

Me: (Click-clicking Internet Explorer)

Antivirus Software text: Internet Explorer is trying to access the Internet. Allow?

Me: Yes allow! (Click-clicking again). Why the H. else would I click Internet if I didn't want to get on the Internet! Jeez! Allow! (Click-click.)

Clock: Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock...

Me: Would you please let me on the flippin' Internet? Can I just look at my e-mail? (Clickclick.)

Antivirus Software text: Persistent cookie from site 66666.6666 attempting to access this page. Allow?

Me: Yes allow the cookie! (Click-click) I just want to see this page so I can check my email! (Click-click-click.)

Antivirus Software text: Additional cookie from site 666.66.6666 attempting to access this page. Allow?


Fixing my family's tech dilemmas - no problem. Fixing my own computer/software issues - no time.

I know, I know, all you real, salaried Geek Squad gurus are saying, ''Just get in there and adjust your security settings, and none of that will happen.''

To these professionals I say: Shut Up.

Anyway, I must go. This Freak Squad member is heading to Youngstown. Grandma needs her digital TV converter boxes installed. Pronto..

Dawn Weber is a Brownsville wife and mother of two pre-teens who commutes daily to Columbus for her full-time job.

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