When Lynn Haag was a little girl growing up in Phoenix, she used to take clocks apart and put them back together. Her dad, a mechanic, would let her watch and sometimes even help him work.
Now she builds computers and solves malicious software problems for her customers at her company, Computech.
"When a computer has a problem, it's almost like being a detective -- you have to figure out what is wrong and then fix it," she said.
Her first computer, a PC AT, she bought as a teen, was made out of used parts. She spent $500 on it.
"I only had it for a couple of weeks and decided it wasn't good enough because it didn't have its own hard drive," she said.
So, she upgraded to one with a hard drive and her personal fascination soon turned into a hobby.
By 1995 she was charging people to work on their computers. When she was hired several years later to rebuild 120 computers for a charity, she decided to stop studying linguistics.
"The first day after that job, I went home and told my husband, ‘Pete, I'm doing the wrong thing, I need to do computers,'" she said. "Pete said, ‘I thought you'd figure it out.'"
Haag went to work in TDS technology deployment services for IBM installing computer systems. "TDS -- my job was tedious," she laughed.
So she decided to continue the work she loved, opening Computech in 2003 to build and repair computers for individuals and businesses.
Her certifications include Microsoft, A Plus Network Plus, Novell and Dell (laptops only).
Computech offers free evaluations of upgrades versus new computers, and the turn-around time for building a computer is about a day.
Speed and storage capacity are two regular customer requests.
"If your mother board will support it, a sata drive is much faster. You want a lot of RAM, and a fast processor makes a big difference in speed."
Customers come in with computers running Windows XP on 256 megs of RAM. According to Haag, in the real world that may not be enough, especially if one is running more than one program at once.
Windows XP or Windows 2000 users can go to performance in the Windows Task Manager to see how much RAM they are using, she said, showing an "average" computer as an example. It was using 310, but had peaked at 360.
People who take a lot of digital pictures and don't trim their size need a larger capacity hard drive, she said.
"I have not met very many women who know hardware. That seems to be the rare thing," she said. "I know lots of women who manage computers. And I don't know a lot of women (or, for that matter, men) who like to clean viruses. It is like detective work."
Hardware problems can range from fans and power supplies to processors. Power supply failure is common. Cheap surge protectors only protect a couple of power surges or lightning strikes. The next jolt goes straight to the power supply.
She recommends protection of more than 800 jules.
When a computer is slowing down significantly, it is time to seek a professional, according to Haag. It can be a hardware problem, but most of time the problem is "mal ware," the catchall term for viruses, Trojans, worms and spyware.
Haag loves the challenge of getting a computer clean.
She will do service calls, but prefers that people bring their computers to her.
Computech is located at 200 W. Frontier, Suite 5, Payson. For more information, call (928) 474-4513.