Friday, December 15, 2006

Trouble Shooting

I tried to call home today to tell Jilda I was leaving early and there was a busy signal. That's odd, I thought. We have call waiting....we never use it....but we have it. As a result, a busy signal is a rare thing. I tried again on the way home and it was still busy so I knew without a doubt that there was a problem with the phone.
I could have called repair service, but had the trouble been on a line inside the house, I would have received a hefty bill. Instead, I fetched my tools when I got home and did some investigation. It was a good thing I did because one of the inside wires was shorted. I removed that wire and the rest of the phones are back in service.
You may ask how I knew how to do this....well, I used to be an installer/repairman for the phone company. I learned a skill set that has served me well.
I have a Master's Degree in business, but that little two week school I had back in the late 70's (and the five or so years of experience) taught me trouble shooting skills that have been more valuable to me in my job and indeed my life than all those years in college.
Trouble shooting skills go far beyond fixing telephones. It's an approach to solving problems....a mindset. It doesn't matter if the problem is mechanical, electrical, or human if you take the right approach you can find the root cause of a problem. You might not always be able to fix it, but you can understand what's causing the problem.
There's a reason the PC help desk always asks "is it plugged in?" That's such an annoying question and it often has the unintended effect of the askee wanting to crawl down the askor's throat and stomping his liver. But the root cause of problems are often simple. People want to believe that their problems are "special". "Well my computer died and I think the problem is due to either sun spots, errant lightening bolts, abnormal dips and surges in the electrical power grid caused by dancing squirrels on the high voltage lines." When in reality it is very likely that someone (or something) kicked your power cord or perhaps your power strip got turned off inadvertently.
Bottom line, most problems are caused by simple things. If you don't know how something works, ask someone to explain it to you in layman's explaining it to a child.
When you have an idea of how it works, look closely look at each of the parts to see if it's doing the fan running, does it have lights...are they on? You get the picture.
We live in a time of great complexity and it pays to know a little about a lot of things. Repairmen make a great deal of money off of people who don't have a clue. That's not to say repairman are unscrupulous, but a little knowledge goes a long way.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:57 PM

    You are so correct about most problems being caused by simple things - especially human relationship problems. Hey! Another topic for your blog!


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