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Would you ask a doctor to perform free surgery?

Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal

Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 61315
    
  66

Or, a lawyer to defend you in court, just because, well, he's a lawyer!

And yet, people don't think anything about asking us computer professionals to fix their PCs, well, just because we're "computer guys" (and gals).

Apparently this is also a big problem in the design industry -- it's called "spec work" and nothing riles up the design world like someone asking for free work. Read this hilarious case in point.


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Ernest Friedman-Hill
author and iconoclast
Marshal

Joined: Jul 08, 2003
Posts: 24187
    
  34

Of course, just because I'm "in computers" doesn't mean I can fix your computer, anyway. I may have no idea why Peachtree Accounting 3.7m won't install on your pirated copy of Windows ME, and I'll just embarrass myself if I try to figure it out. It's more like asking a doctor to ink you a new tat -- they stick needles into bodies all the time, right?


[Jess in Action][AskingGoodQuestions]
Ernest Friedman-Hill
author and iconoclast
Marshal

Joined: Jul 08, 2003
Posts: 24187
    
  34

Damn spiffy!

http://img710.imageshack.us/img710/6246/ineed.jpg

[ EJFH: Embedded image too annoying, I took it out. ]
pete stein
Bartender

Joined: Feb 23, 2007
Posts: 1561
Bear Bibeault wrote:Or, a lawyer to defend you in court, just because, well, he's a lawyer!


Um, I am a doctor (MD, in Gastroenterology / Hepatology), and yeah, we do do free consultations and procedures a time or two, a lot fewer than we use to, but still we do them. It's largely at the doc's discretion. I'd like to believe that our business still has some heart left, even if it's just a little.

I remember in particular this one Mexican preacher with no insurance and an extremely serious chronic illness, that I've treated for the last several years, and have not charged him anything, partly because I feel that what he contributes to our local society is extremely important and that it needs to be fostered. I'm sure that you've done the same when put in a similar situation.
Jesper de Jong
Java Cowboy
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Joined: Aug 16, 2005
Posts: 14194
    
  20

Ernest Friedman-Hill wrote:Of course, just because I'm "in computers" doesn't mean I can fix your computer, anyway. I may have no idea why Peachtree Accounting 3.7m won't install on your pirated copy of Windows ME, and I'll just embarrass myself if I try to figure it out. It's more like asking a doctor to ink you a new tat -- they stick needles into bodies all the time, right?

Very recognizable. And not only people asking me to fix their computer, but also people who think that I can repair their TV or other household device because I studied electrical engineering...

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Tim Holloway
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Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 16101
    
  21

http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts-apparel/unisex/itdepartment/388b/

Customer surveys are for companies who didn't pay proper attention to begin with.
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

In the consulting business, there are a lot of calls for "free consulting" or "free education in the issues of the field". Nearly all clients expect it. I and nearly all other consultants hate doing it. Its a fine line you have to walk, its part of the normal sales cycle. But the potential client is expecting me to give them my expertise that I'm trying to sell to them. If I give away too much, I'm proving that my experience has a price that is free.

I also get the calls from friends and relatives, but I tell them that I don't run Windows or OS-X and can't really help them.
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

pete stein wrote:Um, I am a doctor ..., and yeah, we do do free consultations and procedures a time or two


Not to say too much good about doctors, but since I'm too young for Medicare and mostly retired (no big company health care) I always talk to my doctors about fees. When I explain that their fee is coming directly out of my wallet, many of them offer a "cash payment" discount. Very civilized. They don't have to have staff argue with insurance companies, they get paid quickly. I get a break which is very good news.
Michael Matola
whippersnapper
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 25, 2001
Posts: 1747
    
    2
Jeepers, Bear. You're on macrumors too? Is there any forum on the internet that you and I aren't both on?
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 16101
    
  21

Pat Farrell wrote:
pete stein wrote:Um, I am a doctor ..., and yeah, we do do free consultations and procedures a time or two


Not to say too much good about doctors, but since I'm too young for Medicare and mostly retired (no big company health care) I always talk to my doctors about fees. When I explain that their fee is coming directly out of my wallet, many of them offer a "cash payment" discount. Very civilized. They don't have to have staff argue with insurance companies, they get paid quickly. I get a break which is very good news.


The main differences are that you don't get hit with the "my neighbor's 10-year old kid could do that in an hour" and the offshoring threat is much lower.

I did giveaways in June. I picked an allegedly reputable framework to do something and it blew up in my face, so I went light on the billing - basically replacing the offending framework for free, which required major rewriting. Now I'm wasting my time arguing that July should be Wal-Mart month too.
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Tim Holloway wrote:The main differences are that you don't get hit with the "my neighbor's 10-year old kid could do that in an hour" and the offshoring threat is much lower.

Actually, the Doctors are under a lot of pressure from offshore. I expect that all Radiology
(reading of Xray, MRI and CAT scan images) will be off shored soon. The doctors in Asia
are just as good, and the bits move at light speed.

There is even a fair amount of pressure, not that a 10-year old can do it, but in many areas,
the Doctors are not seen as prefect sources of the one Truth. They to great on broken bones
or hearts, but not so much on broken brains or GI tracts.

After decades of ever increasing rates, its time for the doctors to feel a bit of free market heat.

For the wise ass who says use the 10-year old, I say, "sure, give it to him, but be sure to pay him $10 an hour"
fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
Bartender

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 11356
    
  16

My wife is a lawyer - a public defender. So technically, every single one of her clients have asked her to defend her for free. And she has - although the State pays her a little.

I equate the "you're a programmer so you can fix my computer" to "you're an allergist so you can do brain surgery".


There are only two hard things in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors
Ernest Friedman-Hill
author and iconoclast
Marshal

Joined: Jul 08, 2003
Posts: 24187
    
  34

Or "you're a race car driver, so can you fix my lawnmower?"
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Ernest Friedman-Hill wrote:Or "you're a race car driver, so can you fix my lawnmower?"

You do realize that this may be as absurd as its contrapositive: You fix lawnmowers, so can you drive my race car at Indy?

There is very little overlap in the skills. Sure, most drivers know something about mechanics, and all of the good ones can communicate what is wrong with the car. They each are highly skilled fields.
Ernest Friedman-Hill
author and iconoclast
Marshal

Joined: Jul 08, 2003
Posts: 24187
    
  34

Pat Farrell wrote:
Ernest Friedman-Hill wrote:Or "you're a race car driver, so can you fix my lawnmower?"

You do realize that this may be as absurd as its contrapositive: You fix lawnmowers, so can you drive my race car at Indy?


Indeed, that's what I'm saying. It is absurd to think that because I can write software, I have magical insights into why your Packard Bell 386SX is making a funny noise.
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Ernest Friedman-Hill wrote:I can write software, I have magical insights into why your Packard Bell 386SX is making a funny noise.

But I know what is wrong with your Packard Bell 386SX, its older than a lot of the members here on the Ranch. All of the moving parts are past their expry date. The only solution it to take it out and shoot it.

I have a laptop that is a 486/25, it technically still "runs". But it so old it walks with a walker and does so very slowly. So run is really "shuffles slowly"

Up from that, I think the most elderly in my working collection is a P3-500 or so.
Ernest Friedman-Hill
author and iconoclast
Marshal

Joined: Jul 08, 2003
Posts: 24187
    
  34

Ummm... Pat? Are you deliberately giving me a hard time?
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Ernest Friedman-Hill wrote:Ummm... Pat? Are you deliberately giving me a hard time?

In meaningless drivel? Moi?

I wonder what percent of ranchers know the difference between a garden variety 486 and the special 486SX version. Now that you mention it, I don't think there ever was a 386sx, so my initial diagnosis could be wrong, perhaps its really "it can't be making noise since there never was such a thing.
Ernest Friedman-Hill
author and iconoclast
Marshal

Joined: Jul 08, 2003
Posts: 24187
    
  34

We used to say that "SX" meant "SuX", and it generally did, but in different ways. A 486SX was a regular 486 with a manufacturing defect in the FPU, so it had no hardware floating-point support. A 386SX was a modified 386 shoehorned onto a 16-bit address bus because the world wasn't entirely ready for 32-bit yet.
Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15299
    
    6

My 486 didn't have a math-coprocessor. But I did over-clock it from 20Mhz to 33Mhz.


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fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
Bartender

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 11356
    
  16

Ernest Friedman-Hill wrote:A 486SX was a regular 486 with a manufacturing defect in the FPU, so it had no hardware floating-point support.

My understanding was that they intentionally burned them out. many people thought the normal chip was too expensive. The manufacturer found it cheaper to produce one chip, and burn out the math coprocessor in some, rather than engineer a second chip.

they then had two different chips they could sell at two different price points.

Now, I have no facts to back this up - it's only urban lore. But I wouldn't put it past a company to do something like this.
Ernest Friedman-Hill
author and iconoclast
Marshal

Joined: Jul 08, 2003
Posts: 24187
    
  34

fred rosenberger wrote:
Now, I have no facts to back this up - it's only urban lore. But I wouldn't put it past a company to do something like this.


I don't know for sure, either; but these days there is still "binning" where chips are inspected for performance and then sold as different parts (i.e., CPUs with different clock ratings) depending on their behavior. It might have been some combination of the two.
Ernest Friedman-Hill
author and iconoclast
Marshal

Joined: Jul 08, 2003
Posts: 24187
    
  34

fred rosenberger wrote:Never ascribe to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.


Just noticed that your signature is apropos here!
pete stein
Bartender

Joined: Feb 23, 2007
Posts: 1561
fred rosenberger wrote:My understanding was that they intentionally burned them out. ....


I heard this too. Back in the day we equated it with "well if the puppy's too expensive at $100, we can break one of its legs and sell it to you for $50."
fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
Bartender

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 11356
    
  16

according to the wikipedia, they were chips with defective FPUs that then had the power supply/bus connections burned out of the FPU.

So, the way I read this, they didn't take working chips and purposefully Nerf them...they took chips that the CPU worked and the FPU didn't quite work, and made the FPU not work at all.
Jesper de Jong
Java Cowboy
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Aug 16, 2005
Posts: 14194
    
  20

Pat Farrell wrote:I wonder what percent of ranchers know the difference between a garden variety 486 and the special 486SX version. Now that you mention it, I don't think there ever was a 386sx, so my initial diagnosis could be wrong, perhaps its really "it can't be making noise since there never was such a thing.

Yes, there was also a 386SX.

The 80386 is ofcourse a 32-bit microprocessor with a 32-bit address bus. The 386SX had a 16-bit multiplexed address bus, which meant that the hardware (motherboard etc.) for it was less complex and therefore cheaper. Ofcourse it was also slower than having a real 32-bit address bus. My first PC was a 20 MHz 386SX.

The difference between the 486DX and 486SX was different: the SX had no built-in floating-point coprocessor. There was also a 486DX2, which had an internal clock speed that was twice as high as the bus speed (for example 66 MHz internal clock speed, 33 MHz bus speed). My second PC was a 66 MHz 486DX2.
Jelle Klap
Bartender

Joined: Mar 10, 2008
Posts: 1763
    
    7

Hahaha!
This is just hilarious: http://www.27bslash6.com/missy.html
Ok, maybe a tad harsh, but still...

Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.
Vikas Kapoor
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 16, 2007
Posts: 1374
Jelle Klap wrote:Hahaha!
This is just hilarious: http://www.27bslash6.com/missy.html
Ok, maybe a tad harsh, but still...


. Real?
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 16101
    
  21

Pat Farrell wrote:
Ernest Friedman-Hill wrote:I can write software, I have magical insights into why your Packard Bell 386SX is making a funny noise.

But I know what is wrong with your Packard Bell 386SX, its older than a lot of the members here on the Ranch. All of the moving parts are past their expry date. The only solution it to take it out and shoot it.

I have a laptop that is a 486/25, it technically still "runs". But it so old it walks with a walker and does so very slowly. So run is really "shuffles slowly"

Up from that, I think the most elderly in my working collection is a P3-500 or so.


I had to work on one of those once (for free). Someone had spilled beer in the keyboard. They also didn't realize that PB was ignoring their memory expansion card, so all it did was burn electricity.

www.mousetech.com started out in life as a DFI 486/33, upgraded to a 486/66. It ran 24x7 as a number-crunching workstation for probably about 5 years. I bought it for $75 and upgraded the motherboard to a Pentium 100. The P100 chip blew out several years ago and the only replacement I had on hand was a P90. It's been running 24x7 on that chip ever since.

At one time, it was a web server, DNS server, backend LAN router, file server, cvs server, mail and database server. 2-3 years ago I moved everything except DNS and the routing functions over to another box, since OS upgrades that will cram into a P-90 are hard to come by these days. Oh yeah, briefly I did some Java development on it, using Emacs. Eclipse would have melted it.

I know that some day it will finally break down. The box is terriffic - it has swing-out gates for the disk drives (since it's a server box). But it's cut for AT form-factor motherboards and has an AT tower power supply in it. The bios can't access more than 40GB per disk drive. But everything I've ever posted to JavaRanch has travelled though it. And it's quiet and pulls a lot less electricity than most newer computers.
Peter Rooke
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 21, 2004
Posts: 803

But I did over-clock it from 20Mhz to 33Mhz
- arh those were the days!!! Clock the CPU till it melts!!
Oh no - I still recall twin floppy machines - and 'parking' hard drives and one crazy guy spending all day trying to park a twin floppy dive machine!!!
Now I going for a lay down as I'm starting to feel old!!!


Regards Pete
Amu mathi
Greenhorn

Joined: Jul 04, 2008
Posts: 26
Or "you're a race car driver, so can you fix my lawnmower?"


This analogy is absolutely wrong, these are hard systems aka simple machines not much professionals are profoundly impacted as a computer,

My uncle is a 70 years ++ lawyer, after years of resistance he took up computers as a part of his day2day work [ that was in year 2001], he soon found that computer is not a simple machine it did lot of help for him, it become a part of his professional tool,

A computer is more than a sum of the parts - it becomes a part of your profession, it profoundly affects, in his case it was something that at-least partly acted as his legal assistant and took up some of her work,

As a result he took lot of effort to understand the system - not from technical perspective but from a user perspective such as understanding the short-cuts, software idiosyncrasies - in-fact he was approaching the system just as much as he would approach a new legal assistant trying to understand her, limitations etc

So as far as i am concerned the computer becomes something more than a simple device such as a calculator for most professionals - Thus they consult a computer friend, I suppose they mean to get a initial opinion from us as they believe we are their friend....

I suppose we do that always, if suddenly you are arrested on account of being a bad programmer, threat to Java, and would be taken to Guantánamo Bay definitely you will call your uncle though he may be a corporate lawyer; we would like to understand the nature of offense, who is the best lawyer who handles similar cases, how much will he cost, can you refer him... so on................

I suppose same way they take your professional opinion- no offense in that
 
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