Networking

10 classic clueless-user stories

Recounting the amazing antics of end users can be one of the best ways for support techs to let off a little steam and keep their sense of humor intact. Here are some member-submitted doozies.

Technology may be evolving at warp speed, but one thing about IT will never change: Techs love to swap stories about the deficiencies of their users. The dumber, the better. That's just the way it works. How else are you going to make it through the week if you don't get to shake your head in disbelief after hearing at least one tale of epic confusion, ignorance, or arrogance?

TechRepublic member zlito started a discussion thread a few years ago asking everyone to share their best user stories. Judging by the response, an incredible number of members seem to have encountered users who created mayhem with magnets, asked for help locating the "any" key, used the CD drive as a cup holder, or took the word "desktop" to mean furniture. Others showcased user thought processes so bizarre and convoluted, you couldn't track them with a bloodhound.

Because such stories are fairly timeless, I've pulled a handful of classics to revisit. But I hope you'll jump into the discussion here and start a new, more recent round of all-time-best user tales.

Note: This entry originally appeared as a TechRepublic article and is also available as a download.

#1: Icon by any other name

I had one user, the sweetest lady, who was not very computer literate. After she got her new computer, she said, "Where are my programs?" I told her that I had made shortcuts on her desktop to the programs she used. She said, "When I click on the icon, that's not the right program." When I asked her which program she was referring to, she said, "The third icon down." I asked her which program that was. "Oh, I don't know the name of it. I just know on my old computer, it was the third icon down program."

This one took a while.

-- nabess

#2: Money's worth

Client: I don't understand why that accounting software cost so much. It's only been used once. Consultant: What do you mean, it's only been used once? You use it every day. Client: No, I don't. You used it once when you put the program on my computer and it's been sitting in the box ever since.

...Time to get my money up front....

-- BWestly

#3: IRQ sale

One of the contractors in my office ordered a new computer through his company. Unfortunately, he ordered a NIC with an RJ45 connector and we were on a coax network at the time. This was back in the days of Win95. I informed him of the problem and said I had a spare NIC to give him if he would order the correct NIC to replace the one I provided.

He got on the phone with his company and complained about the NIC. This guy thinks he is a computer genius, but really just thinks that bigger, better, and more are always the solution. So he ordered everything he could think of in this computer. Not a single bay was open and most of the slots were filled. Needless to say he had an IRQ problem. His company gave him the number of the computer company and told him to call their sales department. I was happy to see him on the phone because then he wasn't bothering me while I set up his computer. I overheard him say to the sales department, "My land guy says I'm out of IRQs. Can I buy some more of those?"

-- Idbollert

#4: Retention dissension

We currently have a great policy for keeping e-mail to a minimum. It's only kept 90 days, then it's deleted, so if you want to save it past the retention period, you have to put it into a file somehow.

This has been in effect for several years, but amazingly, we had a couple of executives in the legal dept who built up 40,000 messages in their inboxes each, without having any deleted. I finally got the connection when the new "retention policy" was published. The company lawyers who wrote it had a line in the document that excluded themselves from the policy and made sure they could keep everything forever!

-- msholtva

#5: ####

One of our marketing managers complained that he couldn't make any sense of a telephone management spreadsheet I'd sent him because he couldn't see when the calls were made. I explained that each worksheet in the spreadsheet had a name and the name indicated the applicable month. Two minutes later, he arrived at my desk saying that he still couldn't make any sense of the spreadsheet because there were no dates in the worksheets. I opened my copy and showed him that the dates and times were in column A. He then tried to tell me that I had sent him the wrong file because his column A just had "stars" in it! Oh boy-was his face red when I showed him how to expand the column! Makes you think, huh?!

-- PhatKatz

#6: Must have been the instructions

Back when floppy disks were the only portable medium (good old 5 1/4 and 3.5 inch disks hold not much more than a mere 360K), I was working as a field engineer for a third-party support firm. Remembering two calls always brings a smile to my face.

Caller #1: A guy rings up and says that he has just received his new update on four 3.5 inch floppy disks and he followed the instructions supplied with the update to the letter. He had a problem with the machine reading the second disk, just would not accept it. After a few probing questions, a site visit was required, so I attended the next day and was amazed by what I saw. Yes, the guy obviously had a problem reading the second disk after following the installation instructions:

1. Insert disk 1.

2. Run setup, click OK when asked.

3. When asked, insert disk 2.

What I found was that he had not removed the first disk and had actually managed to get both disks into the floppy drive AT THE SAME TIME. Ooops.

Caller #2: Me: Hello, Tech Support. Caller: Hello yes, I received this update from you for my new PC, but it cannot read any of the floppy disks you sent me. Me: Hmm. Can you please explain what's happening? Caller: OK, I opened the box and read the instructions telling me to put in disk 1 and run setup. Me: Good; next? Caller: So I got the disks out the box and put the first disk into the drive after removing the protective cover. Me: Protective cover? Do you mean the little white sleeve that the disk comes in? Caller: No the big black cover that the disk comes in. Is it supposed to be that hard to get the disk out?

At this point I fell off my chair, only just managing to put the caller on hold before breaking out in a laughter fit. When I attended his home, he had not only managed to take out the disk from inside the disk casing, he had actually managed to get it lodged into the drive and then broke the heads of the drive when he tried to get it out.

-- darkside

#7: Memorable lessons

Several years ago, our organization finally got a T1 connection, so everyone suddenly had access to the Internet. The firewall with content filtering software was installed, but we were still playing around with the filtering settings.

Lots of our workers were complete newbies, so I had to teach a class on using browsers and e-mail clients. I had a mixed class of men and women, most of them completely new to computers. One of the guys was a very religious man, and everyone there was well aware of that.

At one point, I asked everyone in the class to enter www.yahoo.com in the URL box. After a moment, I heard a gasp, followed by everyone in the room busting out in laughter. Seems my religious friend didn't know how to spell "Yahoo" and had instead entered "Yuho." To his shock, and in front of a room full of witnesses, he was immediately transported to a raunchy porn site! The poor guy will never live it down!

-- Quiet_Type

#8: If it don't fit...

Back in the early '90s, I was the PC support person for a tire manufacturing plant. Most of the computers had dual floppy drives (5 1/4 & 3.5), but there were some old clunkers (IBM PCs) with only 5 1/4, as well as some state-of-the-art 286 Compaqs with only a 3.5" drive. It is latter that this story is about.

I got a call from a summer engineering student that her disk had gotten stuck in the drive. When I got to the computer I found that she had her work on a 5 1/4" floppy. She was trying to load this work on one of these new Compaqs. The disk was too big, so she decided that, since the material that the floppy is made from is the same, if she were to fold her large floppy in quarters to make it fit the drive then the drive would still read it. Thing is, this person was otherwise a very smart, logical person. I also had a fairly good rapport with her, so I asked her, "How is the drive suppose to spin the disk if it is folded?" The lights came on, cheeks reddened, and she made me promise not to tell ANYONE what just happened. I didn't in that job, but we both had a good laugh.

-- support

#9: Not a speck of dust

I work for an engineering company. I had an engineer (with an engineering Ph.D., no less) call me about a broken mouse. When I arrived at his office, he showed me the problem by moving the mouse smoothly from one side of the mouse pad to the other while pointing out that the cursor moved in jerks. I showed him how to open the mouse, remove the ball and how to clean the crud from the rollers. After this, the mouse worked perfectly. He was quite happy and I left satisfied that this "problem" had been solved to everyone's satisfaction.

However, the next morning, I again received a call from Dr. X to say that his mouse was broken. This time when I arrived, he moved the mouse from one side of the pad to the other while the cursor did not move at all. When I turned the mouse over, I found that our engineer had decided that the mouse was poorly designed to allow all of the dust and debris to enter it. To correct this poor design, he had applied scotch tape over the entire underside of the mouse! I have to admit, he would probably never have had a dirty mouse problem again!

-- ESchlangen

#10: Most important meal of the day

User: "Is sausage bad for printers?"

To this day, I wish I had replied, "Patties or links?"

-- Mchappell
199 comments
jayohem
jayohem

Much of the clueless behavior arises from lack of training. It would be like handing over a carriage and pair to someone unfamiliar with horses, carriages, and their accoutrements and what to do with them. (That probably would be most of us.) Folks wouldn't fold, spindle, or mutilate floppies if they had been taught how they worked or use CD/DVD drives as cup holders, or look for the "any" key, all of which would deprive the tech worker some needed comic relief.

Additionally, the technically proficient do not always understand that abbreviated terms like OS can be confusing. That is why writers are required to spell out the term initially before using the acronym. I once sat in a meeting where both technical and military acronyms were being tossed around to everyone's frustration. Finally the top specialist stated that there simply were too many TLA's, which led to a "Who's on first?" exchange.

"What's a TLA?"

"Three Letter Acronym"

"I know, but what is it?"

"Three Letter Acronym"

"Yes, but..."

In chorus, "Three Letter Acronym"

EvilCreamsicle
EvilCreamsicle

While I've moved on to a more corporate setting now, I used to be a Firedog tech at Circuit City... Someone came in, desktop in tow, and brought it to our tech bench. The problem, as he described, was that the computer would only boot maybe one out of every five attempts, running slow, and would occasionally just shut down. I found it hard not to chuckle as I brought the computer in for a full diagnostic [corporate policy, of course] and assured this customer we'd be able to figure out what the problem was, and give him a call. After he left, I started removing the magnets he had used to decorate his entire computer case...

rocral
rocral

In 1984 I started PC department on Barcelona Council and actually experienced some of these hilarious facts, as the user who opened the black protection cover of the floppy disk. I also have to delete FORMAT.EXE from the installation image due to the amount of hard disk formatted by users trying to formatting a floppy disk, despite MS/DOS was hidden by a menu systems I wrote in GWBASIC. But the most funny I remember was when a user sent me a floppy with some backups, within an standard envelope, and yes folded and stapled with a letter. Fortunately, the staple doesn't arrived to the floppy disk, only to the black protection.... Alex.

kenwd0elq
kenwd0elq

I was teaching classes for new computer users at BigInsuranceCompany, and one of the segments was an intro to the brand-new WorldWideWeb thingie, and how to find useful information. I told everybody to type in the website address "www.whitehouse.GOV" to see the array of governmental information once hosted there. Alas, at that time the site "www.whitehouse.COM" was one of the raunchiest porn sites on the web, and this little old lady came face-to-monitor with stuff she had never even had nightmares about.

Tumbleweed_Biff
Tumbleweed_Biff

I was working for a company which provided turn-key systems to automotive body shops. This was back in the days of DOS. The user, a woman, complained that whenever she worked on the computer, the cursor would bounce around to different boxes and she couldn't enter in the information. Our tech worked with her on the phone for a while and determined that we needed to send a tech. The next day the tech called saying he had arrived at the location to check in. Less than 10 minutes later, he was calling back to say the problem was resolved, but that he would have to tell us the cause later. He called back and told our support person that we could close the ticket: the problem - the woman was rather well endowed and whenever she sat down to the computer her breasts would lay on the space bar. Fortunately, her husband worked in the shop and the tech told him what the problem was and let him deal with his wife. The whole support group was laughing hysterically. Then there was the time when the user called in saying the coffee holder on this computer was broken ... we sent a tech with a new CD-ROM drive. Or the users who ask which key is the ANY key or don't know where the space bar is ...

lsemmens
lsemmens

I do pc support for friends and acquaintances. On evening I get a call requesting urgent assistance from a friend whose husband is out of town on business. I arrive just as she is about to hop in the shower. Explains problem and leaves me to it. After five seconds, problem is solved and I wait for her to ext the shower so I can explain what the issue was. Out she comes wrapped in a towel, I explain, she responds, " Thank you, I I wasn't wearing this towel, I would kiss you!" Needless to say she never lived that one down. (Sadly, she passed away some years back, but we still get good mileage form it.

Nashphil
Nashphil

Called tech support for a major manufacturer because of a computer that resisted all of my troubleshooting attempts to turn on. Dead power supply? Not in the thinking of the tech. Tech: "I need you to reformat HD and reinstall the OS". Me: "Really?? Listen to me Again! IT IS NOT TURNING ON?"

TImHudson
TImHudson

many years ago i was a security auditor for one of the UK banks. One of our fiedl auditors phoned me to say that they had found a 5 1/4 disk in a brnahc but coldnt read it , whast should they do. I aksed if they could take a copy of the disk, they replied yes and said they would send it to in the internal post. Not ideal but OK. Sure enough the next day a photocopy of the now destriyed disk duly turned up in the post! Doh!!

AngloThaiSolutions
AngloThaiSolutions

Here's one on me (my dumb moment - twice!) Being in IT professionally for 30+ years at a technical level tends to make engineers out of us regardless as top whether we were programmers, analysts, operators/technicians etc, or really were engineers. Simply years of being asked/expected/having to fix things outside of the role does this. So, when I get me new router out of the box (dog ate the last one!) I set it up. All seems to be working well, but no internet. Plug in the old one, chewed and wireless not working, but cat5 OK - no internet. So, check all plugged in - Yep. Phone working - dialling tone, so yep. Call ISP. I am an expat and don't have the local language skills to get too technical, but really just wanted them to recycle the link and check it was working to my house. Eventually got this done, and they reported all is well there end. So, spend the next 3 hours reconfiguring the two router to get them working. Eventually determined it must be the ISP so call back and demand an engineer - guy turns up an hour later and promptly swaps the jacks over in the ADSL splitter (phone and ADSL in the wrong ports) - Doh! Annoying thing is a year later I did exactly the same thing! Problem was I was looking too deeply into the problem without looking at the basics (plugged in, sure, but right way around!) Both times engineer smiled - and no charge (they are just down the road) :)

mrmiata7
mrmiata7

I was IT support at a government agency. On a Monday morning I received a service call from a user complaining her machine wouldn't boot up. I looked at the case first and noticed a floppy disc in the drive. The individual was working with a classified floppy disc and forgot to remove it from her terminal on Friday (they are supposed to be locked up when not in use because of the classified material on them). I removed it and needless to say it booted right up. I reminded her to remove all media when not in use and told her this floppy was preventing the machine from booting up and to lock up all classified media when not in use. Another site placed bagels on the unused reels of reel to reel tape recoprders. Beyond the belief of mere mortal IT supporters.

dufas
dufas

Although this is an IT article, humorous incidents occur in every field. I was an engineer and ended up as the head of a large company's metals division. We built test equipment for the R&D division, worked with scientists to build their 'proof of concept' prototypes and were responsible for in-house repair of company equipment. The company required it's engineers to be 'hands on', if you design it, you build it. We had to get down and dirty. One day, an assistant manager from another division came in carrying a long piece of metal for a personal 'government' job. He had a reputation of being a highly egotistical know it all that no one could tell him anything, he had all the answers. I was working on a project that was near a large industrial metal cut-off band saw where he began setting the machine for cutting his parts. The following exchange could have came directly from an old Laurel and Hardy movie script. Me.........I think you will..... Him........I know what I am doing. [he interrupted] Me.........But, the machine......... Him........I told you, I know what I am doing..[he interrupted again] Me.........You have to.......... Him........Look, I don't tell you how to do your job, kindly keep your %#*&^ nose out of mine.. Me.........OK, have it your way. He proceeded to set the machine up, flicked the switch and...nothing happened. He repeated to try the switch several more times and still nothing... He stomped out of the room and soon came back with a tool kit. He began taking the machine apart...not once, but several times. After putting it back together again and again and trying the power switch each time, he stomped out again, only this time he came back with the division manager. Him...........He [pointing a finger at me], can't keep this shop in working order..it's a mess. Manager...What is the problem here, is the machine broke?? Me............No, it's in fine order, no problems.. Him...........*&%#^% I busted my tail three times to get that *&$#^* going..it's broken.... I reached over, hit the run switch, and the saw started instantly and ran smoothly.. Manager...Seems to be OK to me, what was wrong with it?? Me............Just needed to be plugged in. Manager...Plugged in?? Me............Yep..... Him...........You could have #^%@*& well told me... Me............I tried but you wouldn't listen.. Manager...[to him] What were you doing over here anyway?? Him...........I was ah, well, humm, working... Manager...I see, come with me. This same guy liked to play practical jokes. A floating paid intern was hired to basically be a helper for anyone that needed him. Along the way, he was supposed to learn various facets of the many jobs that our division does, Eventually, he would be a roving fill in for anyone that was off sick, on vacation, or assist anyone with various projects... [The job would eventually pay very well for a person successful in that position due to the skills required] I personally know the first and the last parts of the next thing that this guy pulled. The middle part was told to me by our CEO's executive secretary who lived next door to me at the time. First part.... Our resident idiot who cannot plug in a machine told the intern that A. O. wanted to see him and to take one of the company cars, drive downtown to the headquarters building and wait in A.O.'s office for him. [A.O. was the CEO and founder of our company who had built the company from the ground up..] About two hours after the intern left, the idiot was called into the our manager's office. He came out sometime later, visibly disturbed. The intern never returned from his trip to the headquarters building which further worried the joker. Middle part.... Telling me not to reveal anything to anyone at my division, the secretary explained to me what happened at A.O.'s office. She walked from A.O.'s into the reception room and found the intern sitting there reading a magazine. Asking what he wanted, she learned how he came to be there. She called our division to find out what was going on. She then gave the intern a cup of coffee and asked him to wait a short while longer and went back into A.O.'s office.. The secretary explained to A.O. what was going on and how our joker sent the intern to headquarters. She came out and told the intern the A.O. would like to talk to him now and escorted him into the CEO's office, introduced him and returned to her desk. About 45 minutes later, A.O. buzzed her intercom and asked her to have B.W., the manager of HR to step in and bring an educational contract. [our company offered to pay for advanced education for qualified people if they signed a contract to work for the company for a period of not less than five years on the completion of their education] B.W. appeared, was in A.O.'s office for a short time, then B.W. came back out with the intern and both left together. Last part..... A little under three years had passed, our resident idiot was still an idiot, maybe a somewhat subdued, but still hard to get along with. A rare personnel memo came down directly from A.O.'s office directed at the idiot. The memo, which was ordered to be read aloud in front of our division stated that the idiot was to be given a new position which was, basically, a high paid parts chaser, he could either take the job or submit his resignation. His management position will filled shortly. The next morning, the intern showed up, dressed in a nice suit, driving a nice car. He was the new manager of the idiots division...

Island_Scribe
Island_Scribe

I've done tech support and am reasonably computer literate, which makes me the default call for family and friends who need free tech support. Here's my favourite ROTFL moment, which occurred shortly after I gave my dad a colour inkjet printer for Christmas. Dad: The printer is broken (expectant wait for the solution to be provided) Me (unfortunately not clairvoyant): What's wrong with it? Dad: It won't print in colour Me: What are you trying to print? Dad: Labels for my wife's jam. You said this was a colour printer but the strawberries won't print in colour. I ask a variety of questions about connections and software and file type, which took some time because I had to explain to my dad how to determine all of the above. Nothing seemed amiss. Then I remembered I had given my dad a collection of black and white clipart and perhaps I should ask one more question... Me: When you look at the stawberries on the computer screen, what colour are they? Dad: Black. Me: I think I see your problem....

Ronald McKenzie
Ronald McKenzie

I worked for a company that makes office partitions that funnel 3-phase power to all the stations. In one customer's location we were having an occasional problem with the 3-phase power going unbalanced for about a half an hour and upsetting the computers. The odd thing was that this only occurred shortly after lunch on rainy days. Testing wasn't revealing any reason for the problem, so we did a walk though and checked everyone's station. In one station we found a steam iron. Inquiring with the person in that station we learned that he used the steam iron to iron his neckties when they got wet when he went out for lunch. Case closed. Finally, in the early days of CP/M we wrote an accounting program for a small office. The woman who did the accounting had a really hard time remembering to remove her backup disk from the drive after doing her backup. So we added a second line of instructions to the process: REMOVE DISK FROM DRIVE NOW HOLD IT UP WHERE I CAN SEE IT

ErronB
ErronB

The most funny helpdesk support call came after a user got a new larger 19" monitor. She called and asked to now give her a larger mouse pad. Good Grief.

kayhh
kayhh

I spend half my life trying to give 80-somethings the skills to exchange email with their families and do on-line genealogy. It's not funny, really. People with poor tech skills are increasingly sidelined from society and are spending $400 that they can't afford on a Toshiba laptop they can't use. They're just trying to get back in the loop! Is there anyone out there who would like to wipe the sneer off their face and help me create a Windows front end that the disenfranchised can use? kh

janitorman
janitorman

A client of mine called me a few weeks ago, to ask if I knew a 24 hour plumber who could come fix a leak in his sprinkler system. This was 9 pm at night, I have no idea why he was digging in the yard. I asked why he needed a plumber for the sprinkler system, couldn't he just shut that off and deal with it later? He said he had. He'd shut the irrigation clock off, and when that didn't do anything, he shut the water main to his house off. The problem is, he needed water in the house. Now, some people just aren't handy. I asked where he'd shut the water off, and if there was another valve near it. He sheepishly admitted there was. I said, that's for the sprinklers, shut that one off, and turn on the house main! I went over the next day, and I still have no idea why he was digging in his yard at 9 pm, but I wound up replacing most of the automatic valves since they didn't work, since I had to dig up that area anyway to replace the pressurized line he'd broken (behind the valves.) I guess that's why some systems have an automatic shut-off now if the main's pressure gets too low due to a leak. STILL, those new (they started building them in the 80s and they're still a pain) digital irrigation clocks are a user's nightmare. True they have a digital display, but there are more dials, switches, etc. than ever, and they're NOT intuitive AT ALL. For example, on some, to run a single station "manually" (from the clock) you have to turn the dial to program, hit up or down arrow to select a station, arrow over (these are actual buttons) to set the time to >1 minute.. then use the dial to go to "run"... Idiotic. Users get very frustrated. Then there's the new "swamp" coolers... that use a 100 dollar circuitboard.. in a VERY humid, hot envioronment.. to do the same job as a 2 dollar relay. KISS (Keep it simple, stupid.)

APPIRITION
APPIRITION

Some are funny, however, one must understand that not everyone is tech savvy. I heard stories from car mechanics about stories regarding computer geeks. The one guy swore his carburettor was faulty in his fuel injected vehicle.

sweetriver0
sweetriver0

While doing end user support for a large corporation, I was reported to my boss with a discrimination complaint for "refusing" to supply a left-handed copy of WORD. To prove they had no sense of humor, I was called to the top floor when I responded I could not do that because I had left my smoke wrench at home.

brian_leach
brian_leach

Some of these *are* dumb but #5? I've always thought that Excel's practice of showing hashes in place of data when the columns are too thin is both dumb and non-intuitive. It doesn't say to the user 'hey, expand me to see the data'. That's just bad UI design we've all gotten used to.

Bill_Miller
Bill_Miller

Two decades ago I wrote custom software for mom-and-pop shops in rural Louisiana. I had a particular Client-user (about 2 hours away) that was having issues with some recent code updates I'd applied. After spending nearly 4 hours on the phone trying to recreate the problem, I finally asked her to just copy her files and overnight them to me. The next day, I received an over night package from them. In side was a single sheet of copy paper with a PHOTOCOPY of her 5 1/4" floppy disk. That was all. I walked into my partner's office and suggested we start disengaging from them as a client.

aspir8or
aspir8or

Like a lot of admins, I've found that terminology can cause all sorts of problems. One common error is for users to use the term "hard drive " to mean the pc case and everything inside it. I got a call about a graphics problem, with the monitor just show a screenful of colorful lines. I told him to bring the pc to me, as I'm now a semi-retired invalid and only work from home. He asked if I only wanted the hard drive. I just assumed he meant the case etc. I said yes, don't bring your mouse, keyboard or monitor. I was a bit confused when he turned up at my door with a small cardboard box and asked how long it would take to fix. I opened the box and there was the actual hard disk drive from his pc. One of those "A little knowledge can be dangerous" situations. It taught me that a little time spent making sure we were both on the same page can save a lot of time as well as saving both of us from feeling like idiots.

TBone2k
TBone2k

After six years of various help desk positions, I thought I had had heard it all. Being as we are all human and tend to think the same way about things, I'm sure this has happened to others as well (like the folded or photocopied floppy)... I was helping a customer install their software. I told them to put the floppy disk in the drive and then close the door. There was a pause, a clunk when the phone was put down, then I distinctly heard an office door slam shut! To his credit, the caller thought I was going to tell him something confidential and that was why I wanted the door closed.

n4aof
n4aof

These two "Clueless User" stories make me wonder just who was really clueless. In #4, it never dawned on the IT department that emails are in fact legal documents and may well have retention requirements totally unrelated to their desire to save storage space on the server. In #5, the originator sent out a spreadsheet with the columns configured to fail to display the date.

jeff.allen
jeff.allen

Reminds me of a call I did at a popular resturant chain with an ancient PC (ICL, CDOS). Seems they needed to apply a software patch their head office had sent out - on a 5 1/4" floppy. But my call happened as they couldn'r remove their backup floppy from the drive. I couldn't either.. it was held in by MOLD that had grown on the floppy disc jacket! I managed to dismantle the drive and remove the disc. Then a question occurred to me... I knew this customer took daily backups, so how did they remove the disc yesterday? The answer was - "Oh? Are we supposed to replace that every day?"

waltju
waltju

Instructor in computer lab setting: . . .and while you're here, I've had this problem with these two computers for about a week, but didn't want to bother you with it. Me: You don't need to wait until you have several problems--please let me know ASAP. What's the problem? Instructor: When you type on this computer, it shows up on the other computer. Solution: I swapped the keyboards. Sheesh!

jeffe17505
jeffe17505

I did computer support for the USAF Band long ago, and way back when in the days of Win 3.1, we had a senior NCO build an incredibly fancy Word doc with about a dozen different fonts, special text effects, etc. and was getting visibly angry when his doc only printed out as plain text. Imagine the tact required when I had to explain to him the limitations of daisy wheel printers!!!

1PebKac
1PebKac

story one: Call comes in urgent - no users can log into database at customer site after power outtage. Call users and ask for a remote session on a client sure enough no DB connection is possible, so I ask him to get to the DB server - he goes to the server room. - Starts remote session - everything seems to be working fine, local connections are allowed, everything seems fine. I ask him to go back to a client machine - He says that will be a few min - he has to get out of the server room to get back to the client machine. - He rambles on as he walks, I hear his shoes echoing in the hallway and hear him curse. I ask what was the matter, to which he replied - someon left something in the hallway and he tripped over it. I ask why he didnt see it - he says that it is dark.... Why is it dark I ask - he replies, "Because there is a power outtage, but that has nothing to do with the issue! The DB and clients all are up and running on UPS's" To which I ask, so the DB and clients have backup power, but what about all the routers and switches between them.... "OH" - this was the IT director. Story two (happens the same week as above - different customer) Users are not able to get to DB, -Remote session to DB shows everything is fine, - Remote session to Client machine everything is fine (connection and ping tests), Users are still calling in and saying they cant get in. OH wait, another conversation is overheard other user: mutter mutter... Person I'm on the ph with: "WHAT?", "Hang-on"... Footsteps.. loud "DAMIT!" Phone is picked up - "Well, I know the problem - the power is out over the rest of the location" Their backup generators had kicked in (Server room and the IT room) but not anywhere else."

sheralgraham
sheralgraham

Ok....I'm not a hardware techie. I'm the first to admit. I work in healthcare (now as a consultant) helping physicians and nurses navigate the world of IT. So, I take a call from a nurse who says, and I quote: "My mouse is getting really hot. The little red light is on. But the cursor is not moving. Can you come and take a look?". Sure thing. I asked one of the IT tech support guys to come with me, and bring a mouse. I thought "well....maybe it has a battery or something.....knowing in my head that would not be the case, and red light....maybe that is just the laser light she is seeing" (remember, I'm not a hardware tech). So, we arrive. She shows us the mouse. She happened to be sitting at a co-workers desk for the say (who had a remote mouse in the desk drawer). The "mouse" the nurse was using was a desktop coffee cup warmer! Yeah....I bet it was getting warm!

TheProfessorDan
TheProfessorDan

Years ago, I worked as contractor for the Navy doing support. One day my phone rings and of the officers, a lady named Deb, is on the line and frantically yelling at me about how the internet is down and she needs to get online now. I tell her I will be up in a minute and make my way to her desk. I ask her what had happened and she told me that she was trying to go on google and do a search. I sit down and drop down the list on the address bar and see www.goggle.com. I point out her mistake. A month later, I get same call with the same results. Needless to say I created her a shortcut to Google.

kellybriefworld
kellybriefworld

Employees want their social media apps they love so much but don't understand the threat it poses to the company server. IT deparments are aware of the threat but are at risk of creating a group of very disgruntled employees. So, to block or not? Check this out. There may be a grey area that serves both parties... http://bit.ly/d2NZRp

Englebert
Englebert

The old one where the PC has a blank screen. Look at the back and see that the plug has come out. Not a classic but embarassing

jhhend
jhhend

I am a pc tech for the public computers at a municipal public library. I am constantly amazed at how often we techs have to fish library cards out of floppy disk drives with a pair of hemostats.

esalkin
esalkin

Years ago, I was on "Big Blue's" internal OS/2 helpdesk. We were rolling out laptops to their mainframe support techs. These guys had IQ's starting at 130 and were a wiz with computer they could stand inside but few had a clue about PCs. One common problem was they tended to try mainframe commands on a PC. For instance, they would not use "DIR" they would type "FDISK"! The best one was a guy who wanted to install an app from a web page. The instructions were (we thought) quite clear. 1) Print these instructions. 2) Click Here to continue. This guy called in and complained that nothing happened when he clicked the mouse. The helpdesk tech spent 1/2 an hour going over settings, clearing the cache, ect... Nothing worked. So he started from scratch with "tell me exactly what you are doing". Everything was fine until the caller said "then I put the mouse ON THE PRINTOUT and click where it says ..." I can still here that rep screaming after the call was over :0)

dixon
dixon

...this call occurred on New Year's Eve: Caller: I need you to fix my computer. Me: Sure. What's wrong with it? Caller: It don't work right. Me: Ok, what isn't it doing correctly? Caller: It don't do nothing. Me: Do you mean it isn't booting up? Caller: Booting up? What's that? Me: When you turn the computer on, does it start up normally? Caller: Well, it looks like it does, but then it can't get into nothing. Me: You mean you don't even get to your desktop? Caller: Desktop? Where's that at? Me: The main screen that you see when you start up your computer. You know, with all your icons and the start menu? Caller: Oh. Yeah, I can see that stuff, but I can't get into nothing. Me: Are you saying that, when you click on icons and program shortcuts and things like that, nothing happens? Caller: You mean like Word and pictures and stuff? Yeah, I can get into that stuff, but nothing else works. Me: What stuff, specifically, doesn't work? Caller: Like my Hotmail and Google and stuff. Me: Ok, so it sounds like your computer's working, but you're having trouble accessing websites. Is that right? Caller:....Um....I guess so. Me: Ok, who is your ISP? Caller: My what? Me: The company that provides you with your internet connection. Caller: Oh. I used to have PeoplePC, but they weren't no good, so I quit 'em. Me: You quit 'em? Caller: Yeah, I called 'em and told 'em I didn't want their stuff no more, and they quit sending me bills. Could that be why I can't get into nothing? Me: Yes ma'am.

techistuff
techistuff

I kid u not: user: ? is there a driver I can dl 2 m8 the CD a DVD burner? me: lmao... ur kidding... rite!?!? kinda like something 2 turn ur 12" b&w tv n2 a 52" LCD tv... answer: NO

Da Saint
Da Saint

Got a call once from a woman who said the cup holder on her computer was stuck open. After getting her to describe this cup holder, I explained what it was and had her push the button below it. Embrassed she asked if I was going to tell anyone. Oh yes I am! But I won't tell them your name.

pmiller
pmiller

I had a user call me to complain that her printer was not working, she stated that: "i knew you were going to think i was stupid and ask me all the simple questions, so i checked the connections and everything looks good it is pluged in right."" After hearing this i was suprised and delighted that the woman had actualy tried to troubleshoot the problem, so i decided that there was most likely a software/driver issue and i would come over and take a look. While looking at the printer i noticed there were no lights lit on it, so i checked the connection, and yes it was pluged in, but the power switch was off... regardless of her best efforts the user could not refrian from feeiling a bit stupid, and blushing the the brightest red i have ever seen!!

notforattribution
notforattribution

A local medical center was cutting over to a new, realtime clinic/patient management system. Part of their go-live was live on-site support--a workstation with an IT expert--in each department. This clinic's 'IT expert' clearly met all of IT's guidelines--a nice young man about 20 years old, professionally dressed, well groomed, alert and at his workstation--and horribly misplaced...in the mammography department. I don't know who was more traumatized: --the young man, who was being exposed to women in physical and emotional conditions his limited exposure to media, magazines and common mythologies had never prepared him for or --The women, aged from teens to their 90s; some in various stages of undress, having been transported from chemo, medical or surgical units by wheelchairs and gurneys; others afraid to set foot in the clinic because their religious beliefs forbad them from medical treatment where a man was present; others who were just plain angry an the clinic's blundering insensitivity. A call to the clinic's IT department blew the complaint off with "We assign qualified candidates to every department. Our HR policies prevent gender discrimination. Besides, we don't have any women who can do that job." The clinic's HR and Medical Quality Assurance departments, however, somehow found a qualified female IT staffer by the next morning.

purpleflstf
purpleflstf

Many years ago, I was a SysAdmin on an AT&T 3B2-600 system with remote terminals. I got a call from a Second Lieutenant (2Lt) who complained that he could not do any "official" work on his terminal. As the system was used to process classified information, I asked what exactly he was trying to do. He said that whenever he moved the switch into the "official position", nothing happened. As it turned out, he had previously had another system on his desk marked "For Official Use Only", but when he was upgraded to the new terminal, someone had convinced him that to switch between "official" and "classified", he just needed to move the switch from "On" for classified to "Off" which, of course, is short for "Official". He is a General now...

Slayer_
Slayer_

If they intend to waste your time, waste theirs. How do I reformat? Where do I put the CD? How do I get the CD drive to pop out? I press the button, nothing happens. How do I turn it on? I press the button, nothing happens. Yes it's plugged in at both ends.

Ronald McKenzie
Ronald McKenzie

Now you know why the Apple iPad's iOS is eating Windows lunch. Steve Ballmer et al just can't make a simple interface, even Windows RT is a stinker.

captainanalog
captainanalog

That's odd, I know perfectly good mechanics who try to tell me that the rotor of a permanent-magnet alternator has no magnetic energy until it is spun. Idiocy knows no bounds.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

OH you mean that EFI doesn't use Carbies. :^0 The problem is that with early EFI they used what was called Centre Point Fuel Injection where the injector/s where mounted in a body that replaced the Carby. Even had a butterfly in the bottom to open the Taps and allow more Fuel/Air into the engine so it was an easy mistake. It was also a common modification in the early days to replace the Carby with a Fuel Injection Manifold which was the same thing. ;) Col

santeewelding
santeewelding

I will puke. The other evening I watched and listened with marvel to the magic of a pianist. I doubt she knew how to build a piano. I doubt she knew the first thing about it, puke.

jayohem
jayohem

Makes one wonder whether this was one of the legion of black-on-black items. We who no longer are on the sunny side of forty can have a problem locating on/off switches tastefully designed and artfully concealed. Monitor power switches can be especially challenging owing to lack of standards for location, side, bottom, front? Push button or piezoelectric?

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Some job assignments simply should not be gender-neutral. This was one.

gi7omy
gi7omy

I work on a forum for a certain CD burning company and I had a user who had rendering problems. I told her to check for updated drivers, but she came back a bit confused as to how to do it - anyway she had an onboard ATI chipset so I posted back, told her to go to the address and select the OS in the first column, Integrated Motherboard in the second and in the third, select her chipset The reply came back "I don't have an OS - I have a gateway. Does it matter?"

dixon
dixon

...it's the ones who are both clueless AND hostile that cause me to shake my head. I once got a call from a lady at a small business who started off nearly shrieking. Her network was dead, she said, and I needed to get there "right now!!!". I asked her to calm down so I could walk her through a couple of simple things before embarking on a sixty mile round trip. You would have thought I asked her to set herself on fire. After much angry resistance, I finally persuaded her to calm down enough to actually give me some useful information: Nobody could open the QuickBooks company file, but it worked fine yesterday. After more angry resistance, I had her check some of the obvious things from her machine. Sure enough, things didn't seem to be working. Me: "Since I'm not seeing what the problem is from your computer, let's take a look at the one hosting your company file." Caller: "What the hell is that supposed to mean?!!" Me: "You know, the computer that contains your QuickBooks company file, and shares it with the other computers?" Caller: "That computer can't possibly be causing the network problem!" Me: "Why are you so sure?" Caller: "Because nobody's even using that computer! It's not even turned on!!!"

cbader
cbader

When I did support we used to shudder when users told us they had a Gateway, there users just seem to be the worst. If you had a bad call you could look at the person next to you and simply say "Gateway user", no other explanation needed.

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