Monday, October 22, 2018

Computer Help with Ralph

By Ralph Earle

When I retired in 2017, I intended to devote more time to writing poetry, but also wanted to translate my three decades of computer experience into providing help for others. Talking with friends, I realized that unlike our children and grandchildren, many of our generation have little connection with the why’s and wherefore’s of how computers deliver email, social media, and videos. If anything goes wrong, we are as unlikely to fix it as we are to repair our increasingly computerized automobiles.
    That’s when I realized that my teaching background (seven years at UNC-Chapel Hill), combined with my computer skills, put me in a unique position to help people with technical issues ranging from the fundamental to the crazy-making.
    As an English PhD who specialized in modern American Poetry, I often wondered how I ended up in IBM as a Senior Engineering Manager with no formal engineering training. When you work in Computer Research & Development, you are expected to troubleshoot and fix your own computer, and if you don’t know how, you had better well learn, from your peers or from the vast ocean of resources known as the internet.
    After years in management, I found my way into Customer Support, where I learned techniques for what to do when things go wrong, and interacted with bright young people who schooled me in websites and social media.


Now I am bringing these skills to a broader audience with my new business, and Moristotle asked me to share it with you here. The name, Computer Help with Ralph, tells you a lot about my approach: personal and straightforward. I want to demystify your computer for you, and ensure you get the most out of it.
    Many of the friends I already help are great at core competencies, such as yoga teaching, tutoring, or economic planning, but have no desire to master the computer issues that dog them. Such issues stem from the increasingly difficult technical environment we have to interact with. I take people’s issues seriously, because even when they may seem simple, they can stem from a problem that is maddeningly difficult to pinpoint and fix.


Generally speaking, computer issues fall into three categories:
  • Keeping your computer healthy
  • Engaging with the internet
  • Learning new skills
Keeping your computer healthy is no easy task. It can be painful when a computer program, or maybe the whole computer, just isn’t working, and you have no idea why. Troubleshooting is required. Either through a brief conversation, or through a remote look at your screen, I can diagnose what is wrong, and together we can make it right.
    Computer health also requires preventive maintenance. The programs you use, the websites you visit, and your operating system constantly fill your computer with files and data you don’t necessarily need. Eventually these additional files make your computer slow and inefficient. Periodic maintenance is required, and knowing what files can be safely removed is as important as actually removing them.
    In addition, software programs are continually upgrading, to offer you more services and greater security, sometimes at additional cost. I can help analyze which upgrades you need, and help you install them.
    You might also face issues with so-called peripherals: printers, routers, and the like, that work together with your computer to form a computer system. I can help ensure that all your devices talk to each other, and make sure they are up-to-date and running well.

In the realm of engaging with the internet, my focus is on website creation and social media. More and more of us have personal websites, for a wide variety of reasons. That doesn’t mean we have to manage them ourselves, or spend a fortune getting others to manage them. I can help you decide what kind of website will serve you, and what it will take to make it real. We can design it together and you can decide the degree of hands-on control that best suits you. And if you have an existing website, we can talk about the best ways to keep it up-to-date.
    Social media are a whole different animal. Many people and small businesses feel pressure to be on Facebook and Twitter, just because everybody else is. But how much do these internet giants really offer you? Is it worth your while to become a pro at them? Once you understand your goals with social media, I can help you set up or even manage your accounts. And don’t get me started talking about Instagram, SnapChat, Reddit, Google+, blogs, and forums. Your social media presence can be as broad or as narrow as you like. The main thing is to get informed and know where you are going.

Speaking of getting informed, the third main area of my focus is coaching and education to help you learn new skills. Whether you want brushing up on a few tips to make you more efficient, or education on a new computer, we can schedule sessions that will get you up to speed. We can assess where you are right now with your skills, where you would like to be, and develop a plan to get there.


If you would like to find out more about my business, and how we can work together, go to my new website, Computer Help with Ralph [computeralph.com]. My rates are comparable to what you would expect of a professional in any technical area, and, as a generalist, I provide good value. I can charge far less than what specialists sometimes charge for web development, social media marketing, or technical services.
    Contact me if you need Computer Help with Ralph. And spread the word!


Copyright © 2018 by Ralph Earle

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