To become a computer technician, you don’t need specialized training or degrees — so how do you know if the people you are dealing with really know what they’re doing? Is it a hardware problem? Or is it really a software glitch? Here’s what to look for…
One of the most confusing issues that any computerized office faces is “”Who is going to take the responsibility for my computer/software problems?”” The software company says it’s a hardware problem; the hardware company says it is a software problem.
Let’s start at the beginning. The computer/software industry is unlike any industry you have ever dealt with before. It’s like using a HCFA 1500 form for Medicare. The government wrote guidelines for use with Medicare HCFA forms. Every State and every Medicare carrier has interpreted those guidelines differently! So we now have 50 different Medicare HCFA forms instead of one. Are you aware that most if not all of the components inside a computer are built by different companies and each company has it’s own interpretation of the industry guidelines?
This is just the beginning. Now software is loaded on this new miracle box called a computer. Most if not all of the software that is loaded is written by different companies. And to top this off…each software program places different demands on the computer.
What software you ask? Let’s start with DOS (Disk Operating System). Without DOS, your computer is totally unusable. DOS is the program that tells your computer everything it is supposed to do. It’s like a policeman standing in the middle of the street directing traffic. Oh, by the way, though DOS is always “”licensed”” from Microsoft by computer manufacturers, they modify it for the computers they sell. So even DOS itself is different from one computer to the next.
Now that DOS is loaded, we can start setting up the configuration. “”Do what?”” you ask? Certain files must be set up so the computer can direct information everywhere it needs to go. One file is called the AUTOEXEC.BAT file and the second is called the CONFIG.SYS file. These files contain DOS commands which tell the computer what it needs to know to run software programs. Everyone who sets up these two files has his/her own interpretation of what to put in them. Once again, no set standard.
Now the fun begins. Many programs need the autoexec.bat and the config.sys files set-up differently! This means that every program you load on your computer needs to reset these two files for their requirements. This becomes even more complicated when you add Windows. The software programs now must also set-up other files inside Windows. Once again, each program is demanding something different. Also, remember the most important part of all: all software is not created equal. I think you would be amazed how many times you can load one program and…now nothing else works on your computer.
There are three categories of people who write software programs. The first consists of those who buy commercial (off-the-shelf) software that allows them to write their own programs with little or no training. Though they call themselves programmers, that’s analogous to model airplane enthusiasts calling themselves pilots. The second group are real programmers. Such entry-level positions involve writing computer code for specifications developed by more experienced systems professionals. Programmers typically have at least a B.S. Degree in Computer Science. And last, but most certainly not least, are those described as either Systems Analysts or Developers. These are a rare breed of people. Why? Typical developers have graduate degrees in Computer Science and a wide range of systems development experience earned in large corporations. They earned their title. Much the same way you earned the right to be called “”doctor.””
With this new insight about those that write software programs perhaps you have a better understanding as to why some programs work better, have more features, or cause less problems than others.
Let’s now discuss those that build computers. To become a hardware (computer) technician you don’t need specialized training or degrees. All you need is a business card and some salesmanship ability. How do you know if the people you are dealing with know what they are doing? Simple… research the company. Find out how long they have been in business. Get a list of referrals if possible in your field. If you are having a network installed, make sure the people you are dealing with are certified by the manufacturer of the network you are installing. If they are not certified to install the purchased network, the chances of your computer system running properly is decreased dramatically.
Using a computer network is like driving on an interstate. There are numerous exit and entrance ramps, speed limits, bridges and most of all — traffic everywhere. Now, as you’re driving down this interstate system (just like a software program) you hit a pothole, your car starts to shimmy, you have a blowout, and come to a stop. Your car (software) did not cause this problem. The problem was caused by the interstate (network). To build a safe and smooth interstate system you need engineers that are highly trained. You need the same thing to build a smooth and safe network.
From 11 years of experience installing hardware, software and networks in doctors’ offices across the nation our experience has proven time and time again that the non certified installer will always blame someone else’s software as the problem. You must remember…if you purchase software from any company, it is not the software company that engineered and built your network. If the software is a network version and you cannot get it running on your workstations, the network was not engineered (configured) properly. Don’t embarrass yourself by calling your software company and blaming them for the problems of something they did not install or configure. Many software companies–for a fee-?will get on the phone and tell your network installer where the network configuration needs to be changed. Remember, software support fees do not include someone else’s network.
Configuring a network to operate with many different software programs is not an easy task for the non certified person. It may even be an impossible task.
It’s easy for the network installer (while standing in front of you) to convince you, the doctor, that the software company is fully responsible and that you pay that company support money. What they’re really saying is, “”I’m in over my head and don’t know how to fix it.”” Support fees charged by software companies cover support of their program only; not hardware, networks or other software not sold by them.
Another false assumption is that if you cannot print, your software is not working properly. Once again, if you are running through a network the problem has a greater chance of being a network printer direction problem than a software problem. A simple test to determine which one it is involves shutting down the network and printing while in single user mode. If your software prints then you have a network printing problem.
The simple solution seems to be buy hardware and software from the same company. The problem with this theory is that most offices would rather buy from a discount house, mail order or a brother-in-law to save money. Are you really saving? Discount houses and catalog order companies do not install the hardware or the networks. So who do you find to install this really great bargain? Your friend the computer whiz? A brother-in-law? A patient who knows computers?
The moral of the story is as follows: the consultant who installs your system should have at least one (if not more) of the following: B.S. in Computer Science, Novell CNE certification, Lantastic certification, Microsoft certifications for Windows & Windows networks. If you don’t follow this simple rule, you’ll regret it all the way to the bank. Saving hundreds of dollars may cost you thousands over just a few years.” “As Vice-President of HNA Computer Systems, Gary L. Grow has dealt with various products and has assisted and installed numerous applications and hardware in hundreds of offices across the nation. A noted author and lecturer for individual offices and chiropractic colleges, Gary works in association with some of the largest management companies in the chiropractic profession. Gary has spent years enhancing and supporting the chiropractic profession.