Keep in touch
You've earned that extra slice of plum pudding, but if you'd like to make a down payment on next year's portion, you'll go the extra mile by making your help available year-round. But be smart about it.
Not smart is giving Uncle Bud your phone number and telling him that he can call day or night with any small problem he encounters. Not only will you be contacted at all hours of the day, but there's nothing as frustrating as trying to troubleshoot problems when you can't see what the computer (and Uncle Bud) are doing.
Smart is, instead, configuring his Mac so that you can control it remotely. You can do this via Messages if you're each using an AIM, Jabber, or Google Talk account in Messages. If you're a little hazy on the details, Topher Kessler's Away from home? Here's how to access your Mac remotely will help.
That way, when your favorite uncle gets stuck, he can call, you can each log into Messages, and then--after a stern "Don't touch the mouse/trackpad or your computer will catch on fire!"--you can set about untangling the mess he's created.
And to all a good night
Some of you may view this as the cheapskate's way to avoid the trouble and expense of getting a "real" gift. Humbug! Anyone can swing by Gifty Mart and pick up half a dozen radioactive reindeer. It takes far more effort to provide another person help in a way that's truly meaningful. Perhaps it won't pay off today, or even tomorrow. But when you pull your cousin's data from the edge of oblivion next Arbor Day, she'll know who the real Santa is.
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