"What kind of a computer engineer are you, if you cannot fix this problem?"

Sounds familiar? Welcome to the world of ironies. I have faced this question from many different people at different times, with the reason behind such an outburst ranging from not being able to fix a printer to not being able to debug a program in Matlab. The trouble is, it is not just worth trying to make someone understand that the word 'computer' stretches beyond what you commonly perceive as your Desktop machine or your favourite laptop.

I was a PC-doctor in my hostels. Which meant that when anyone had a problem with their computer: such as non-booting, bizzare graphics resolutions, no sound, or even programs gone haywire, I was summoned. Of course it took some cajoling (like a free tea at the night canteen --- or the promise at least) to get me there. At other times, the problem itself seemed so interesting (like a program that... well, umm.... never mind) that I went and investigated. And of course, there was always this bunch of new converts to Linux who used to look up to me as some sort of a guru (thanks to the sys admin and webmaster positions I held :) ) and so setting up Linux servers, DNS, Samba: you name it, and I had a full block of people to dictate terms to :D

But then there are certain things that I am not supposed to know, and if I do know them, it is my credit and not my duty. I initially used to hate people who scowled and scampered off when they learnt that I could not help them debug a Matlab program (it used to be so pricking you know!). But now I tend to laugh at them, give a condescending smile and say, "Oh, I guess I never learnt it". Sorry to break your heart, sweetheart! Printer paper jams? Printer driver not working? Wrong display driver? Did you read the frigging manual that came with the main-board, dude?? I swear, one guy actually had just thrown away his motherboard CD because he did not have space in his CD-case!! He still had his internet working, though: so I could fix it by finding the exact model of his graphics card by the Motherboard carton :O

The moments of glory come with this little portfolio as well: like when I went into this cyber cafe with my mom and fixed that guy's sound card because I wanted to hear some songs, and the man went ballistic on having saved 200 bucks! :D Or when my experience with the linux PCs equipped me to fix my lab at the university, so that the professor came and told me in person, "I am happy with the way the lab is shaping up -- good job!" :) It always feels good to be able to fix a problem, it is like a little puzzle you solve and someone else smiles in happiness that his/her stuff works!

So, here is what I have to say to everyone who has a future computer problem and wishes to consult me: one, I will drink at least one cup of tea or coffee on the job (or so you must promise). Two: I cannot guarantee that I will be able to solve it, I can try (although I have a high success rate). Three, and most important: everything you know as a computer is not the end of it: don't drop two notches in my rating of your intelligence by asking, "Can you fix even this? You are a computer engineer!!"


  1. Hum... how many such stories you have and what an impressive way to present.You really observe things minutely. A writer in making? :-)

  2. We need someone like you here badly!

  3. Alka, thanks, thanks!! :) Writer in the making? Yeah, maybe... lots more thanks :)

    Anumita, ahh, so finally I am not to starve if I do not manage to get my degree: there is an alternate profession and someone ready to hire me! Thanks :)

  4. yeah i agree wid alka,u r one in the making,at least you can author a hardware manual if not pulling off pulitzers and bookers..pardner me too a de jure software engineer..sneak in to my life here..

  5. A writer in the making? hmm... waise i too seem to be having some computer related troubles, and i am willing to offer you more than a cuppa tea for this...

    Am looking for a comp engineer in life..

    To fix my comp related troubles in future, what else dude?

  6. The darkest place is under the candle. [:(]...

  7. It is really cool when someone personally comes to pat on your back. Such satisfaction.. Keep doing your best and be the engineer who can fix every problem:-)

    Btw hubby is computer engineer too and nothing is impossible for him still once in a while he gets this from me “What kind of a computer engineer are you, if you cannot fix this problem?" :-) When I myself did masters in computer science but no real experience yet:-)so he gets all the heat when something is not fixed:-D

  8. Cardamom, hey! Welcome onboard!! Writer in the making?? Man, I am flattered! Thanks, thanks and thanks a lot! :)

    Sunshine, jealous already?? :D

    If I ever open a comp repair shop where the price of a visit will be one cuppa tea or coffee (although your 'more'-s will be more than welcome), the punchline will be, "Kiska hai ye tumko intezaar mai hoon naa..." :D

    Raman, yeah, well, wait till I get transparent. Don't worry... you know way too much for a first-year comp engineer... at least more than I did

    Mommyof2, yeah, it is very satisfying! And you still fire those one-liners at your hubby?? Uh oh, poor guy... I do pity him, since he can't get angry at you for saying that! :)

    P.S. - It is always good to know of more and more comp engineers making the world a better place! :)

  9. im usually the Mac Fixit in my field of work....and so i sympathise with you there about stupid remarks..

    lol.... its like they can mess things up to any degree but WE have to fix it no matter what!

  10. hey sudee,

    i would really like you to read my stories "the 06:12 borivili Fast on 7/11" and "speaking from hell"..they are on my blog..they will give u a chill in the spine..try dem

  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  12. Dude join the C-net community..and if your really keen on networks (very boring I assure you) drop me a line.

    The future is in consulting...and not doing :)

  13. Sudipta, it's really true if you works as computer engineer people thinks you can do anything related with computer....Nice thoughts will be back

  14. Grafxgurl, thanks! And yes, as you say, we HAVE to fix it no matter what! I am glad you know :)

    Cardamom, all right sire... will be there. But were you there on the local when this happened?

    Rujul, ohh, thanks! Welcome onboard :)

    Sanjay,thanks, buddy! Although I am more of an AI person than networks... guess will become an AI consultant :D
    P.S. - Welcome here

    Tarun, exactly! Thanks... and welcome to you as well... will want to see you around some more :)

  15. Hmm...that's enlightening for a techno-greek like myself...who's constantly having to run to your types for help.

    Thanks for visiting my blog!

  16. new post!! buddy..comments awaited

  17. Hmmm...the technologically challenged me had friends like you who would prevent me being ripped off by the likes of Dell and HP for servicing.But then TAMU is too far from my current location.Lesson for the day next time I'll pick up friends from the geekier kind.And before I press Publish button,liked your blog.Will drop by frequently.

  18. Ideasmith, first off, welcome here!

    And I think you got me wrong... we need people like you!! But the only point is, a) please feed us the coffee, and b) please don't express your displeasure if we cannot fix anything :)

    Cardamom, ok, will see.

    Chillabong, welcome, welcome!

    Thanks for the compliments, and yes, in case you need to pick geeky friends in Austin (not TAMU), hum hain naa... :) Will like to have you around some more

  19. Yes the situation sounds interestingly familiar

  20. Shreemoyee, :) Just familiar? Any particular anecdotes? BTW, really liked your blog. Do keep visiting this place :)


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