Ever been tempted to do something silly to your badly behaved computer? 
David Block was. Until he saw the (online) light...

Picture an Olympic athlete winding up to fling a discus. Substitute the green sward for a window ledge, the bronzed athlete for a silver surfer (myself), and the discus for a disagreeable laptop computer. The brand new machine that had been defying me for days.

For a moment I stand poised, relishing that deliciously primeval feeling of being about to completely lose control. I swing back my arm to hurl the thing through the window and out of my life.

Irritatingly, common sense kicks in, overcomes my dander and sets me on a path that was to lead me virtually across Egypt, Mongolia, Scotland, the Philippines and Guildford, Surrey.  My vehicle was RITS, Remote IT Support, which saved me from throwing myself on the mercy of some local cash-sucking computer engineer.

Stepping back from the window ledge, I contacted the people from whom I’d bought the laptop and they put me straight onto their contracted mechanics  In Egypt. Thirty or so technicians trained not only in fixing computers remotely, but also in human communication. Having watched their country’s recent relatively polite revolution, I had been impressed by how friendly was the typical Egyptian rioter-in the-street. Hearteningly, their IT buffs are cut from the same cotton.

What riveted me was how I could hand them control of my computer and watch as they made its cursor frolic around the screen, magically clicking and dragging programs, and skilfully ticking off hieroglyphical selection boxes (being Egyptian this comes naturally) as they transferred masses of data onto my lovable little laptop.

This took many hours – as it would have done anyway. While it did so, I made the acquaintance of a team of engineers, superbly patient, with friendly and therapeutically humorous language skills. At dawn on day two, I arose to an immaculately loaded and primed machine. Their service being 24/7, I could subsequently make as many hysterical calls for help as I wanted, day or night. And they never patronised me for cack-handedness or silly questions. They were unfailingly patient, awesomely skilled and totally charming.

My work could easily have cost me £120 locally.  It cost me nothing as zuuMedia has partnered with the company I bought my laptop from.  Quids in, I decided to sign up for their year’s perk-full contract that includes limitless online conversations with their amiable whiz-kids however complex or embarrassingly simple the problem.  An entire year for the equivalent to £9.99 a month works out about the same as a couple of hours emergency call-out by a blood-sucking techie. 

zuuMedia founder/director Philip  Waite from Guildford (he doesn’t bother with a real office) told me he’d recently lectured to a gathering of Silver Surfers (one of their biggest customer groups) and assuaged primary worries about viruses, scams and operating system crashes (Windows, Linux, AppleMac etc).

'These are areas that most ISPs (Internet Service Providers) can’t help with,' he said.  'Nor do they seem bothered that many older people are targeted with spoof phone calls. One, claiming to be from Microsoft, tells them their computer’s got a virus and they need to download some very expensive software to cure it.  Apparently they’ve scooped fortunes from older people with this scam.'

My contract provides continual help in beating the latest online cons along with a whole basketful of ‘virtual’ services.  They even place step-by-step guides on my home screen for simple computer techniques to click on whenever I have a bout of technical amnesia.

They regularly service and deep-scan my machine, update its software and keep its anti-virus and anti-spyware on the ball.  Try asking your local engineer to provide that lot and you could find yourself shelling out up to three figures for each of those services. 

There are of course other RITS companies, but I’ve not come across one with such an intriguingly comforting name. Philip Waite happened upon an Erdene Buddist monastery in Mongolia, on the site of Genghis Khan’s ancient capital of Kharakhorum, with the name Zuu which means peace and harmony.

'We try to make older people feel relaxed and not to worry if they did something wrong as it’s highly unlikely to have significantly damaged their computer,' Philip assured me.  'And we’re happy to show them, for example, how to use Skype so they can see their grandchildren regularly whether they’re round the corner or Down Under.

“We’ve just helped someone in Scotland who’d been having problems for weeks with his Lexmark printer.  So we contacted Lexmark in their Philippines office and they took over his printer online and fixed it in five minutes.'

So we can all come back off our window-ledges. Joining the online service revolution saved me a packet and a symphony of jangled nerves. Actually, it saved my computer’s life. 

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