I have a client whose daughter has been through quite an ordeal over the last few months, and is currently in a hospital in the bay for long-term care and treatment. The parents are doing everything within their power to spend their time there (three hours away) in order to stay close and be there for her.
This may seem entirely off-topic, but this is what brings me to the topic. You see, the Mom is a Windows user, but they're trying to get the daughters MacBook up and running for her so she can use it during her recovery. Unfortunately, the trackpad effectively "didn't work" for her. She didn't want to drive back up the hill to see me, so she took it into Best Buy to The Geek Squad. After what they described as a "complete diagnostics" they advised her that the machine was damaged beyond their capacity to repair and would require an OS reload to "fix" the problem.
The problem with this solution, of course, is that it will cause all the user settings, applications and data to be lost, which should always be in the technicians mind as he makes this kind of recommendation. The tech offered to begin the process for her, but she opted to bring it up to me instead (three hours away, don't forget).
Fortunately, as a real human being, I don't wipe a client's hard drive when alternatives exist. Especially if that alternative is something as simple as checking a box to get the behavior the client is after.
That said, even though this was the behavior the client was after, due to her daughters condition, I recommended she keep the current behavior and opt instead for an external mouse. This will enable her to use the keyboard on the MacBook without the annoying jumping cursor issues that happen so often with laptops. In this case, since the daughter is working to regain their fine motor skills, the trackpad would act more as an annoyance than an effective input device.
I worked as a technician for Gateway over ten years ago, and it was ridiculous to me just how often the other staff recommended a system reload to the client instead of really investigating the problem so that it could actually be fixed. Sure, the process resulted in a "cleaner" system, but almost all the stuff that was "cleaned off" are the users data: their business documents, family pictures, homework, music, email and the applications they spent their own time and money purchasing and installing. And unless you actually do diagnose the hardware, it's very likely that any existing hardware failures will only be exacerbated by a system reload. Sigh.
Shawn K. Hall
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