It’s hard to get Cate Eales to settle down long enough for an interview, however we finally managed to Skype some time together. As many of you know, Cate writes a weekly column for Castanet called ‘Getting Along With Your Computer’. Of course if you have a Mac you’re already getting along with your computer, but the advice in Cate’s column is mainly meant for the poor lost souls who still use a PC. Cate is probably going to start throwing things when she sees what I just wrote, but that’s okay, I can run pretty fast.
Cate happily answers all my questions.
Jo: Cate, how long have you been crazy enough to want to fix computers for a living?
Cate: I’m not sure I ever wanted to fix computers for a living. It’s more like I found out I was pretty good at it, and it just evolved into a business. The focus is really on the people rather than on the computers. “Helping you and your computer get along” is our tagline, and I really mean that. It’s a completely mobile business, I don’t have a shop, I go where the computers and people are.
Some people just want to go make a sandwich and have me tell them when everything is fixed, but others want to watch and learn. That’s the coolest part. If I can teach someone how to get out of a jam, or better still, how not to get into one in the first place, then I call it a good day.
Jo: So, in a nutshell and in one perfect sentence, resolve the Mac vs PC question.
Cate: PCs and Macs both have their place. What you get depends on what you want to use your computer for and what you want to spend.
Jo: Ha, that was two sentences! You recently fixed a Mac, if I recall correctly. How did that go? And please! No bad language!
Cate: I’ve helped people with a few Macs now, and it has been . . . interesting. Although I don’t know nearly as much about Macs as I do about Windows, I was able to research the problems ahead of time so at least I looked like I knew what I was doing.
Jo: I’m pretty sure everybody wants to know: how many times has the solution been to plug in the computer?
Cate: Not very often, but there have been times where I’ve fixed sound problems by plugging the speakers into the correct jack, and other times when I’ve plugged the speakers into the electrical outlet.
Jo: Mortifying moments for the customer, no doubt! What kind of computer problem curdles your blood, tempts you to not be home for the caller?
Cate: There’s really nothing that tempts me not to answer the phone, because I like solving problems. The computer problem that does get to me is the ‘scareware’ that takes advantage of people by telling them they have a ton of errors then offering to sell them a solution. People fall for that all the time. At best, it’s just a rip-off. At worst, it’s identity theft.
Jo: The ability to understand and fix computers is something in which people are generally in awe. They look up to the person capable of taking their surly unresponsive beast and beating it into submission and obedience. Does it go to your head, the adulation?
Cate: Yes, Jo. What with all the constant adulation I’ve had to buy a larger hat.
Seriously, I have regular customers who appreciate what I do and in addition to paying me promptly and without complaint will give me an extra thank you or a hug. Sometimes someone will throw in a bottle of wine or some fruit from the trees in their yard. I have some customers I hear from even when things are going well for them, they just drop me a line to say they’re happy. The best is when I get a call from someone who’s been recommended by a happy customer.
Jo: Hugs? You get hugs? You should line up George Clooney as a customer, then. Tell me a bit about your business, how did you get started, how is it going?
Cate: Computer Care Kelowna is a mobile company, we go where the problems are and solve them on-site. A lot of what I do is problem-solving, but there’s also some tutoring and consulting. It never gets boring, that’s for sure. I’ve set up new computers, transferred files, set up home networks, iPads, Android tablets, and of course printers. We do scheduled routine maintenance with small businesses so that they can concentrate on what it is they do and not have to worry about what’s ‘under the hood’.
The “Getting Along With Your Computer” column really helps. It appears Mondays on Castanet as well as on our own website, ComputerCareKelowna.com
. Working with customers provides me plenty of column material and the column lets people know we’re here.
Jo: Win-win, then. So, spring is right around the corner, and I know that means you’re back to scooting around. What made you choose a scooter, economics? environment? Or because it is just plain ubercool?
Cate: I really hope spring is closer than right around the corner. I hope spring is running up my driveway right now getting ready to knock on the front door.
I love my scooter. I got one because I liked the idea of being able to jump on a scooter and go somewhere. It’s easy to park, cheap to ride, and it’s a lot of fun. I ride the scooter everywhere I can when the weather is good.
Jo: Your dog Sandy was made world-famous in one of my columns when she appeared as a Facebook friend of my dog Angus. Did this go to her head, did she become unbearably snobbish?
Cate: Yes, she was pretty near impossible for awhile. Tons of Friend Requests on Facebook, and phone calls for play-dates, not to mention the voicemail. I drew the line at getting Sandy her own smart phone. Eventually things settled down and she went back to barking at the meter reader and critiquing the food here, just like normal.
Jo: Well, woof at her for me, okay? I understand that you curl. How did you get into a sport that involves taking a broom and sweeping a big rock off the ice? Why do they allow rocks on the ice in the first place, Cate?
Cate: To answer your first question, other winter sports weren’t really a good fit for me. Going downhill really fast? Not a chance. Or hitting each other over the head with sticks? No appeal. Curling is fun, and Jo, the rocks are supposed to be there. Really.
Jo: Every year at Christmas you offer up a tree cam, which I always enjoy. Your trees are very expressive, and sometimes I talk to them. Sometimes I get caught talking to them, and it has been a hard one to explain. What started you doing the cam?
Cate: My husband and I have family and friends all over the place in lots of different time zones. We started doing this when it was called ‘web casting’, and folks seemed to enjoy it. Now we’re ‘live streaming’, and there’s even a chat room. You could leave a comment there for the tree, Jo.
Jo: I just don’t know, Cate. Leaving a comment for it would probably give it ideas, and I’m not ready for that kind of commitment, especially with Christmas trees. They are so fickle, so here-today-gone-tomorrow. Speaking of which, it’s time to wind down this interview. In closing, if you could tell a new computer owner just one thing, what would it be?
Cate: Make the Recovery Disks that your computer is prompting you to make, and do regular backups to an external hard drive. Then . . . have fun!
Jo: Thank you Cate! And good luck with those rocks. Just a thought, lose the broom, get a high-powered leaf blower.