Hardware

Clueless users: 10 more tales of the absurd

User support may be stressful at times, but it can also be highly entertaining. Brien Posey shares another round of silly things his users have said and done.

About a year ago, I wrote a list of my 10 favorite stupid user stories. Although that list was fun to write, it was really hard to narrow the list down to 10 items. So I decided to write a sequel and cover 10 more tales.

Note: This list is also available as a PDF download.

1: Clippy

I'm sure that most of you probably remember Clippy -- Microsoft's annoying animated Office Assistant, which will no doubt be recalled with the same fondness as Microsoft Bob. (For those who don't remember Clippy, it was an animated paper clip that debuted in Office 97.)

Back in 2000, I was working in the healthcare industry. One of the facilities I was in charge of was using an ancient version of WordPerfect, so I decided to upgrade them to Microsoft Word. Upon seeing Clippy for the first time, one of the users thought that Clippy was an animated stethoscope and that I put this animated stethoscope on everyone's computer as a way of celebrating the fact that she was about to become an RN.

2: Molten keyboard

About a week into my first job as a network administrator, I got a call from a user who said that she spilled coffee on her keyboard. I told her to turn off her computer and that I would bring her a spare.

I expected to find the user's keyboard saturated in coffee, but instead the keyboard was completely dry. However, the keys were completely immobile and were coated in some sort of crystalized sugar. If she had spilled coffee on the keyboard then the coffee must have been almost pure sugar and the spill must have occurred about a week before I got there.

Keyboards were fairly expensive at the time, so I wanted to try to salvage hers if I could. I tried chipping away the sugary substance with a screwdriver, but I couldn't get it off. I had gotten in the habit of cleaning keyboards in rubbing alcohol, but a normal cleaning just wasn't working. Since I couldn't seem to free the stuck keys from their sugary cocoon, I decided to try soaking the keyboard in a bucket of alcohol. The problem was that I made the decision at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend. When I returned to the office on Tuesday, the alcohol had dissolved the sugar, but it had also dissolved much of the plastic. The keys now had the consistency of Jello. There was simply no saving the keyboard after that.

3: Centipede infestation

A user at one place where I worked installed a copy of the game Centipede onto his computer and then gave bootleg copies to everyone else in the organization. Unfortunately, the game was infected with a rather nasty virus. The next day, I had to drive to Ohio and spend the entire day cleaning the virus off of everyone's computers. The morning after that, I got a call from the director of the facility saying that the virus had returned. I drove all the way back to Ohio and started checking out the infected computers. I noticed that the Centipede game had been reinstalled. When I asked one of the users about it, she told me that I was an idiot and that computer games can't carry viruses, so she had put the game back onto everyone's computers.

4: CD extraction

Somewhere around 1992 or 1993, I was working for a large insurance company that had an in-house marketing department. The marketing department decided to invest in a graphic arts software package that included a rather extensive clipart library on CD. Although this might not seem remarkable today, there was only one computer in the entire company that had a CD ROM drive, and that computer belonged to the IT department.

The marketing department could have purchased a CD ROM drive for about $500. Instead, they asked the IT department to copy the clipart library to floppy disk for them. The size of the individual clipart files made it impossible to fully utilize the capacity of every floppy disk. Therefore, it ended up taking roughly 800 floppies to store all the clipart. The floppies cost about $1.50 each at the time, which meant that the marketing department could have purchased at least two CD ROM drives for what the floppies cost. Never mind the fact that it took dozens of hours to copy all the clipart, and those hours were billed back to the marketing department. Another problem was that although the floppies were all labeled, it ultimately proved to be impractical to dig through hundreds of disks to find one single clip art image. After much money wasted, the marketing department finally decided to invest in a CD ROM drive.

5: Nigerian prince

We've all seen the fraudulent email from the alleged Nigerian prince who wants to give the recipient millions of dollars. Even though that email message (and an infinite number of variants) are laughable today, there was a time when the message was brand new.

I once had a department manager tell me that one of his employees had quit his job rather abruptly because he was receiving millions of dollars from a Nigerian prince who had contacted him through email.

6: The computer science teacher

I have to admit that I had never touched a computer before 8th grade. That year, however, I was accepted into a school that focused on math, science, and technology. Because the school placed such a heavy emphasis on computer science, I would have thought that the teachers would have been computer savvy. But I remember one teacher using magnets to hang 5.25-inch floppy disks on the side of a metal filing cabinet.

7: Bad power strip

I once got a call from a user who said that he thought that either a circuit breaker had been tripped or his power strip had gone bad because neither his computer nor his monitor were receiving any power. This guy was normally pretty sharp, so I assumed that his diagnosis was probably correct.

When I showed up with a new power strip, I began unplugging everything from the old power strip only to discover that the power strip was plugged into itself rather than being plugged into an electrical outlet.

8: The daily server failure

One time, a user called saying that their server was down. I drove to the facility and found the server powered off. I booted it back up and all was well.

The next day, the same thing happened. This time, I was able to ask the person I talked to on the phone to check to see whether the server was powered on. The server was turned off, so they powered it up and fixed the problem.

About a month later, I had all but forgotten about the power failures. I was at the facility for something completely unrelated when someone made an off hand comment that every day the server goes down at about the same time and they have to manually turn it back on. I confirmed the person's story by looking at the event logs and decided to come back in the morning to see what the problem was. The next morning, I watched in horror as someone yanked the server's power cord out of the wall so that they could plug in a coffee pot (which they sat on top of the server, no less). When the coffee was done, they unplugged the coffee pot and plugged the server back in.

9: Wrong printer

One company I worked for had a number of printers throughout the building. Needless to say, there were plenty of instances of users having trouble figuring out how to select the correct printer. The story that really sticks out in my mind was about a guy who decided to look for another job. He printed a resume and cover letter while he was at work. This alone would have been bad enough, but his cover letter seriously bashed the company he was currently working for.

As you have probably already guessed, he sent the resume and cover letter to the wrong printer. It gets better though. Since the document didn't print where he expected it to, he assumed that the printer was having problems and tried resending the document many, many times. Meanwhile, on the other side of the building, everyone in one of the other departments was having a big laugh over the misdirected resume.

10: Tandy 1000

I used to work for an organization that had a policy that all computer hardware purchasing had to go through the IT department. One of the department heads came to me for a quote on some new PCs. He didn't like the price I gave him and decided to go shopping on his own. I don't know where he found them, but the guy got a cut-rate price on some old Tandy 1000s.

For those who may not be familiar with the Tandy 1000, it was a PC that was released by Radio Shack in 1984. This incident happened in 1999. So the computers the guy purchased were roughly 15 years old. He just couldn't seem to understand why I refused to connect the computers to the network or why I was unnecessarily costing the company money by insisting that departments purchase modern hardware.

Also read:

Your turn

Can you top these tales? Share your own stories about silly, befuddled, and outrageous user behavior.

About

Brien Posey is a seven-time Microsoft MVP. He has written thousands of articles and written or contributed to dozens of books on a variety of IT subjects.

217 comments
osandoval_1
osandoval_1

In 2013 a Lady called me and said there is something wrong with My  PC, It's making noise and I went down to the PC and find out that she have an USB fan connect it and running.  So, users  still having some issues today.....

jayohem
jayohem

Can't top anybody, but I can add to the merriment.

In1982 I worked for a bank, not in IT but as a teller. Computer workstations, nothing like PC style stations, had been installed to ease updating customer accounts. The company requested that the server in each branch be left on over night so the updates could be downloaded to the branch. Again and again we would find that we were missing the updated info and would have to use microfilm reader to get the info. The mystery was solved one day when the branch manager bragged how he had saved $25 on the power bill by turning off the server every night.

In an unrelated incident at a college where I worked in the late 80's Apple computers were quite desirable and pricey. A department head had ordered one for himself. The purchasing agent was proud to tell him she had saved the school $1,000. The machine arrived; the department tech guy set it up, turned it on, and saw a flickering screen and nothing else. Turned out the Apple cost less because it had no OS.

Not~SpamR
Not~SpamR

The one about the server and the coffee pot is easy to top. I worked at a trading house some years ago when the trading server went down for no apparent reason. It turned out that in the server room some engineers were working and needed to plug something in, so they just picked a plug and pulled it. Unfortunately the plug they pulled fed the power strip that powered the live trading server. Even more unfortunately the same power strip powered the backup trading server.


There were some choice words said in the meetings that followed that little fiasco.

lsemmens
lsemmens

Son, who had grown up with computers beginning with DOS 2.1, turned up for his first computer class at high school, teacher soon learnt that he knew more about computers that he did. One day, in class, son had managed to find his way through the "security" on the system and posted a message on the screen of a girl across the room, "Warning! The radiation shield on your screen has failed, get back!". Of course, screams and pandemonium erupt. All the teacher could respond with was,"Only You, S*******s, only you!"

mrviqar
mrviqar

It was back in 1999, when we were using win NT, and an application needed to be upgraded through a Script. I was managing about 1400 users at that time and each user with One workstation. In order to speedup the task, and not ready to risk the network disconnection issue in some areas with weak network links, I loaded the script on Floppy disks, and couriered them the script, with complete instructions. After a day I received a call from a user that he is unable to load the script, and wanted help. As the user was app 1200 miles away, I placed the call to one of my colleague to help him load the script,or provide the workaround to manually write the script someway. After about 45 minutes, my colleague came to me showing his inability to perform the task and eventually I had to take up the case. When I started working with the user on step by step basis, for a work around, suddenly on a bran storm about floppy disk's behaviors, I asked the user to take out the floppy disk sent by us and insert some other floppy to check the drive, and the response I received was SELF EXPLANATORY. and that is: " WHY- DO I NEED TO PUT THE FLOPPY DISK IN THE DRIVE?"

tazin8r
tazin8r

I worked for an engineering consultants, as a support person for the IT department. We not only had several different printers, but one of them was a large format printer for printing Engineering plans up to size A0 (1189 x 841mm or about 3.9 x 2.76ft). No-one seemed to be able to select the correct printer, and would quite often manage to send documents to the large format printer at A0 size. The best one being the time someone who was in the process of purchasing a new home, brought in electronic copies of all of the legal documents required for the purchase into the office to print, and "accidentally" sent the prints to the printer at A0 size. About 120 multi-page documents in all. No-one noticed the problem until the printer started screaming at us that the freshly replaced 150m roll of paper had been completely used up.

ericeck
ericeck

We did the "stick the disk to the filing cabinet with a magnet" back in the 80's as a gag for our department manager with an old bad DOS 2.0 floppy disk. After getting the appropriate gasp and deer in headlights look from him, we had a good laugh and explained it was a bad boot disk to begin with. Our mistake was not taking it down. Sure enough, one of the bank's senior VPs had stopped by, seen our floppy and then proceeded to keep all of her spreadsheet data disks handy by using magnets to hold them to the metal whiteboard at her desk. After explaining why she lost all her data and why we did it, we placed a sign over our little joke display "NEVER DO THIS". At this same financial institution we had a large IBM mainframe with four huge disk drives that you dropped the disk platters into like a washing machine. One of them had died and never bothered being replaced which came in handy when a local advertisement production crew filmed a few ad segments in our IT department. While the data processing manager (back in the days before "IT") and senior developer were out to lunch, several of us hatched a plan for an extra segment to be filmed and got the advertising producer to go along. When management got back, they were told that they wanted to film a another take of our senior developer saying his lines with the mainframe room in the background and some of the staff changing tapes and hard drives, etc. We were supposedly going to be dropping a platter into the dead drive so it wouldn't impact the mainframe at all. What he didn't know was that it was actually our systems programmer pulling his laundry out of the dead disk drive that we loaded during lunch. It was a huge laugh when they showed that scene as the last bit of a footage and an employee meeting for the entire company to show off our new ad campaign. It's just a shame it never actually aired. And yes, we stole it directly from The Official Silicon Valley Guy Handbook. The best part was how many employees asked us later if we really did our laundry in the server room.

Gurugabe
Gurugabe

I have two that are always stuck in my head as "What were they thinking? The first one, I got a call from a lady that had trouble making purchases online, mind you this was the very early years of online shopping. I went through all the troubleshooting steps I could think of, but could not figure it out. Time for on-site visit. When I got there she told me the only problem she had was getting the credit card reader to read her card. I thought you have a credit card reader, wow. So I asked her to show me what she was talking about. When it came time to enter her credit card information on the website, she would put her card into the floppy drive and then accessed her A drive to get it to read it. I explained her error to her as politely as possible while laughing inside and told her that the magnetic strip on her credit card was probably now ruined because of this. Sure enough, when she handed me that very credit card to pay for my service and I swiped it through one of those new portable credit card machines you plug into the phone line, it did not even recognize it as a credit card. The other one, back when Windows 95 roamed the Earth, I had a lady who wanted to save hard drive space on her computer and decided to delete every file and folder that she did not create herself. Remember, this was Windows 95, back when Windows did not hide anything, even Windows critical files. I had so much fun reinstalling her computer.

IrvineITGuy
IrvineITGuy

Back around 1986-87, I worked for a company that designed CAD/CAM manufacturing software. The software had rather specific hardware requirements so it was a typical practice for us to sell the PC (IBM-AT) along with the software. I recall one instance where a new customer called with a complaint about his monitor. He reported that even after the computer was turned on, the screen would turn all white and that he couldn't see anything else on the display. I walked him through some basics such as how to adjust the contrast, rebooting the computer, and I even listened to the computer startup sequence to make certain that everything sounded correct (back then you could hear a specific sequence of beeps and hardware sounds which indicated what was happening during the startup process). After about 30 minutes and one increasingly angered customer later, it dawned on me... the customer stated that the screen was white, not black. Back at that time a white monitor display screen meant that the monitor had no incoming signal, so I asked him to check the monitor connection to verify that it was plugged in. He informed me that of course it was plugged he and that he was not an idiot. I asked him to double check that both ends of the cable we securely plugged in and that neither end managed to wiggle loose. He replied, "What do you mean both ends?" I explained that the cable connects to both the back of the monitor and to the back of the PC and that it was nearly impossible to connect the cable incorrectly due to the unique shape of the connector. There was a moment of silence, then quietly I heard him say, "I thought that was an antenna. Why would I know to plug it in at both ends?". I quickly made an excuse to put him on hold then spent a good 60 seconds laughing at the absurdity of what had just happened. I then composed myself and returned to the customer on hold and explained to him that monitors for computers act like closed-circuit television, they only receive direct signals. After the issue was resolved, the customer apologized for some of the names he called me, hung up the phone, and went on to be one of my best clients ever.

DPeek
DPeek

Had a customer that bought a fibre channel SAN. I did the install, but subsequently got called back to replace the RAID head 3 times as it kept failing within 10 days or so. The customer was livid and sent the company all manner of NastyGram emails. I was at a loss for the problems with the RAID controllers as I had done dozens of similar installs and that hardware was rock solid gear. We were replacing for the fourth time, and on the edge of losing the account. We learned not from the Director I was dealing with, but a maintenance guy, that the air conditioning vent right behind the rack we installed into became a HEATING VENT at night!!! No apologies offered by the customer, but the threats and nastygrams did stop.

DPeek
DPeek

Got a phone support call from a lady that claimed her PC couldn't hold the CD of software she had received from the company I worked for. Together we combed through her HD and RAM specs, then went back through running processes. Nothing helped. She maintained that the CD simply wouldn't fit into her PC. I was certain that we had missed SOMETHING but decided to send her another CD, and asked that she return hers to me directly. When I got her CD I found that it had been fabricated a little over 1mm too WIDE. You could put it on a stack of media and it stuck out like a sore thumb. I have NO idea how that made it through media fab and burn process, but the disk didnt "fit" in my disc tray either! Use your WORDS... they matter.

DavyPaul
DavyPaul

Yes, I've had a senior finance officer take out the 'mainframe'. They would not pay me for saturday work, so the senior and chief finance officers used the small office space next to the computer room. They plugged in our battered old kettle, but so it could be close to their desks, moved it from the 'dirty' supply and plugged it into the 'clean' supply that's on the data center 'breaker'. Well, they switched on the kettle, which 'blew', taking out only one ring-main as the trip switch 'tripped'. unfortunately for them, it also took out the (ICL VME) Master Oper console, which normally remains on. At that point, VME thought to itself "no Oper, I think I'll reload" which it promptly did, shutting down all DB & TP services.

mike
mike

I've had a customer who was not quite as bad as the "unplug the server to make coffee" they plugged the coffee machine into the UPS; it only took a couple of minutes :)

jdm12
jdm12

or just the machines? These are all old stories. I'm wondering how many eighteen-year-olds would even understand the humor in them. Today, I don't hear any stories about people misusing their smart phones and tablets. And no one now seems to get near a server who isn't tech savvy.

david yahoo
david yahoo

My friend had his own company and was unsatisfied with one of the employees's productivity. He decided to have a look at his internet history and to his surprise found the employee was searching for his mom on Facebook! My friend couldn't even believe he found out his mom's name! Needless to say he wasn't around for long. I do love the Nigerian royalty scams. I can't help but feel that after years of sending these emails that some people must be responding otherwise the emails would have stopped?

Seotop
Seotop

Hah ;) nice comments!

MottTheHoople
MottTheHoople

I worked at several companies where the newest, most powerful computers went to upper management. Why? All they ever used was Word or maybe, Excel. Maybe they could type 4,000 wpm; maybe that's why they needed the best of the best computers. Meanwhile, CAD and graphics imaging were stuck with second-best.

DavyPaul
DavyPaul

My friend Stu was working in a town council (city hall) office a few years back. Took a call from a remote works depot saying that their printer was not printing their works orders. Stu did the usual 'is it plugged in' etc, but they said he should come and see. He jumped into the car and drove over to the depot. The officers there looked a little sheepish and directed him into the warehouse area, where the dumb-terminal and printer were located. Stu's jaw dropped in astonishment. The reason the printer was not working is because it had been crushed against the wall by their fork-lift truck.

BookiesDad
BookiesDad

The only thing worse than a clueless user is a clueless user who thinks he/she has more than a clue! One morning I hadn't been in the office for an hour before the calls were coming in. An email issue was affecting multiple users. When clueless cathy couldn't get onto her system, of course it was related so she called me. "The whole network is hosed, isn't it? My system won't respond, so and so can't login, across the hall he can't get email. You have problems this morning, eh?" she said somewhat snarkily. I added her to the list and went after the problems. When I got to her office she was hanging out, musing out loud about how she couldn't work because of all the problems. I cycled power on the monitor, moved the mouse and keyboard...sure enough there was no response. I traced the wires back to the docking station where I solved the mystery. I took a full 30 seconds to compose myself and straighten my face. "Cathy, where's your computer?" "At home. Do I need it?" How does it go again...? Beware: they live, they walk among us and they breed.

muttjp
muttjp

There was incident where a switch was losing connectivity every night about the same time. After doing some troubleshooting and finding nothing wrong with the switch. I that there had to be some external factor. So one night I set up a camera in the closet, turns out the janitor was unplugging it so he could plug in the vacuum cleaner.

michaellashinsky
michaellashinsky

User has a laptop with a docking station, an iPac PDA, (or another brand just like it...) in the docking cradle connected via usb, keyboard and mouse sitting right in front of the opened laptop, and he helps himself to a set of speakers that shipped with another PC in his department and connects them. He keeps his sound muted all the time, and called me to complain that his desk waw too cluttered and the wires were messy and could I please make it more organized. (Step one: draw bullseye on wall. Step two: bang head on bullseye. Step three: repeat head banging until you loose consciousness.)

DonG43
DonG43

I was working with a customer via telephone, trying to talk her through a software issue with Windows 98. I asked, "do you see 'My Computer'." Her comment left me on the floor. She said, "I can see mine but I don't think I can see your computer."

jfk
jfk

Some time back, I was working as a consultant for a stationery manufacturer, my task being to design and implement a nationwide printer strategy for their many branches. One of the regional managers asked that his department's printer be replaced with a faster one because one of the reports was 6 feet high and took all night to print. When I asked who actually *read* the 6 foot high report, he replied, with a totally straight face, "nobody, we just tear off the control page from the end and check that". Of course, my next question was why not print the control page and nothing else? The answer? "We're a paper maker, it's important that we use as much of our own products as possible."

Forensics.Focus@gmail.com
Forensics.Focus@gmail.com

In ten years of servicing computers thank God this only happened once.... Lady called me Dec. 27, 2005 and said he computer was running slow, please come help me. Set up a call, went to the residence, looked at the computer, and sure enough it was slow, slow, slow. Just crawled, gunked up, pitiful.... It was a homemade model her son had given her. I asked her how long has the computer been like this? "Oh, a while now". In hopes of a more accurate answer I asked a more accurate question... "Exactly when did you get this computer?" "Christmas" Thinking to myself "How did Windows get so slow in just two days?" I told her "Lady, Windows does not like to run more than 24 to 48 hours. You are going to have to shut down your computer more than every 2 days". "More" she replied? "You mean more than every year?" She got the computer from her son on Christmas day 2005 and she PROMISED me she always rebooted every Christmas day after that. Only this time it was slower than last year.

dbain2k
dbain2k

This story is, hands down, my all-time favorite! A client calls me one day and complains that her computer is frozen and asks me what to do about it. I tell her to press the reset button on the front of the computer and wait for it to start back up. After about five minutes of silence on the phone I decided to ask her whether or not the computer rebooted successfully, to which she replied "Not yet... Should I let go the reset button?" And then this one happened about two weeks ago... I went to an elderly gentleman's house to setup a new printer for him. He starts to tell me about his new computer which he recently purchased, and all of the "fantastic" features that it has. He went on to say that it came with "Microwave 7". It took every ounce of energy within me to prevent myself from laughing, far-less smiling, at which point I looked at him and said "Umm, you mean Windows 7?" "Ummm, uhhh, yes, yes, that's right... WINDOWS 7!" Then there was the time a client called me to tell me that he moved his computer from one room to another and that it was no longer turning on... He had the power strip plugged into itself. I love my job!

DTansy
DTansy

1999 just after replacing a pc for a middle-aged couple in Plainfield IN, I received a call from the couple that the wife was unable to finish an online purchase. She had slid her credit card into the "card reader", and "when the little door closed", she was unable to retrieve it. I had to drive over 30 miles to fix the problem. It was a learning experience, since I had never had to completely disassemble a floppy-disk drive before.

djforster
djforster

I work for a company that does not like buying any IT equipment (An IT service company). I have been engaged to write English documentation for a Francophone Start Up. So the first laptop they give me thermo trips at about 1530 everyday and did I mention it was a French version of XP , and no licenced version of Office (In French). Now the documentation I am writing needs a lot of screen shots for the technical docs, so I am unable to do the documentation , so I ask for another laptop , French XP and no Office (Can I use Open Office). Well no , so I get another laptop (English Windows 7 and Office) but now as they have no batteries that work with this laptop can I survive without it. It is not only IT users that are painful sometimes the managers too. I do not think I will be here much longer as their next thing is to say for "free" training to become certified in the clients software must be taken in my own time as well as paying for the exam. BUT can they use the fact I will be certified to allow them to sell this product. Amazing.

klaasf
klaasf

This is a story from the 70's where minicomputers often had only disc drive containing one removable disk cartridge and one fixed disk on the same spindle. In order to backup both disks in a single-drive system you had to follow a procedure in which the fixed disk is used as an intermediate to make a copy of the removable. Therefore the fixed disk is to be copied first to a empty removable backup cartridge. Next you copy your working removable to the intermediate fixed disk which is then copied back to a second backup cartridge. The last step is to restore the fixed as the second working disk. In those days the unlabeled, image based copy was the fastest way to backup. Once we had a customer that succeeded in copying in the opposite order which resulted in four (4) perfect empty disks. Cheers!

cristi
cristi

I had to design an internal network rack for a new company. I made the calculations, included switches, patches, panels and so forth and sent them for approval to their HQ IT department manager. Needles to say, everything on the list was approved, except the rack itself...

etherfix
etherfix

In the late 1990s, I worked setting up small business and domestic customers' new computers. A lovely lady I called on had her computer already set up except it was not connected to the AC supply. She assured me that the computer was delivered without a power cord and I went to the local computer retailer and bought one. I told her I would now check out the computer and install the software. "There is no need to do that", she said, "I've already done it".

fluxtatic
fluxtatic

Two or so years ago, we had just taken over another company on the other side of the state. We were having problems getting their printers to work on the network. A colleague called over to the office and asked one of the people to go "to the black and white printer." In response, the remote user said, "We don't have a black and white printer...we have a [i]gray[/i] printer."

PCF
PCF

This article, and the stories in the comments.... Awesome!!! Oh man, users. lol C-:

mtnman28715
mtnman28715

I had a VP tell me he most certainly could print from his house, although he wasn't connected to the network in any way (this was before Web-aware printing). I assured him it simply wasn't possible but he said every evening he'd 'print' whatever he was working on and in the morning when he docked his laptop at his desk, magically it printed his document on his local printer! Cool huh?

mtnman28715
mtnman28715

I had a user call and say she was having printing problems and indeed I couldn't get to the network printer either. I asked when it started and she said it began when the power went out ... She had a UPS under her desk, but the entire building was in the dark!

Ndiaz.fuentes
Ndiaz.fuentes

I once had a familiy member ask me if she had to insert a blank CD into the CD-ROM drive in order to record stuff onto it... I'm ashamed to be related to this woman.

Thump21
Thump21

Working for a computer reseller/networking vendor our service department received a call from an irate user whom purchased a new computer the day before. The customer insisted we sold him a lemon because his kids had been playing a game for a couple hours on his new computer the evening before but now it didn't work at all. He said the game was *included* with the computer when he bought it. He said the name of the game was "Shmoss" ... which I immediately understood to be CMOS!

peter
peter

My company makes medical billing software and here are two stories I wouldn't believe if it hadn't been there when they happened. In the first instance, we got an angry call from a customer who insisted that our software didn't work because she when she placed a blank HCFA-1500 form (used for health insurance claims) against the screen and pressed the PrtScr key, it didn't print. I was speechless for several seconds not knowing how to respond. The next one happend not long after the first and again it was a very angry customer. She had only recently purchased and installed our software and she was calling because none of her patients were showing up. She had been seeing many of these people for years and they were not in the software. I had to bite my tongue.

bermudamohawk
bermudamohawk

I'm going to suggest to all of my IT peers to start using the tray as a cup holder. Just to perpetuate this ancient yarn

DianeDG
DianeDG

I found out a coworker at NASA HQ was planning to send funds (big funds!) to a dubious entity from a third world country who had a car for sale online. Another coworker and I had to sit her down and convince her not to send the money. Took at least an hour.

templets
templets

Back in the mid-80's my company produced financial software for Apple II computers. Some customers at a Xerox Business store were having problems and thought their data was corrupted. We requested they make copies of their disks and send them to us for analysis, and to make sure to package them against damage. Several days later we received a large envelope with 2 pieces of cardboard and sandwiched between were several photocopies of the front and back sides of their floppy disks.

asotelo
asotelo

I was the IT manager at this middle size company and one of the stories I remember was this one: Someone called me and told me one of the printers was spitting out page after page of garbage. I went to the printer and it had already printed about 200 pages. I turned it off and went to the server console (NT) to see who had started the print job. When I had the user name I called her and she said she had not printed anything all day. I canceled the job and everything was ok (except for the wasted paper). The very next day, at about the same time, the exact thing happened. After turning off the printer, deleting the print job and finding out it was the same person, I went to her desk and asked her if she had printed anything. She again insisted that she hadn't. I asked her to show me what she was working on, and everything she was doing was stuff she did every day. I asked if she had done anything unusual or different. She said: "no..., oh wait, I tried to see this picture that I got at home but I could not open it". She had a floppy with an .exe "picture" that turned out to be a network virus whose main object was to print useless garbage out of networked printers. Obviously it did not "work" at her house because she had no network, but it worked fine in ours. After that employees were banned from bringing floppies from home.

Srobalino
Srobalino

I was 19 when I was hired as a tech for a small accounting office. The daily activity was just to take care of any user issues and maintain the server. The first thing i check was the server room. To my surprise the server was plugged to a power strip that was connected to one of the two outlets in the room and emergency backup battery. I spoke with the boss and let him know that he should invest some money on a simple backup solution since it was only one server, He objected to my suggestion. It was the hottest summer of the year and my boss blasted the A/C 24/7 in the office. Our fuse would burnout or run low voltage which would cause blackouts and also brownouts. I do not know how that 5 year old server (the age at that time) survived all those blackouts and brownouts! After two weeks of no power and constantly losing data, my boss finally gave in an purchased a used UPS.

steven.hoyt
steven.hoyt

Trying to troubleshoot a system over the phone half way around the world. The user complained that the system just started beeping and then shut down and wouldn't turn back on. Went through all the usual stuff, lights on the UPS, plugged in, etc. Couldn't figure it out so made arrangements to fly there and get this critical system fixed. When I arrived they took me into the building where the system was located, but it was not in the same facility I had installed it in the year before so I asked why it was in there and who moved it. They told me they had moved it themselves and when they hooked it back up everything was working fine until the beeping started. Upon entering the building I noticed there were no lights on, but there was enough ambient light that it really didn't register. Once they got me to the systems I noticed two things. The first was that the system indeed wouldn't turn on. I asked them to turn on the light so I could check the cabling in the back and was informed that the building didn't have power yet and wasn't supposed to have any for another month. That explained the beeping, everything worked fine until the UPS drained and it shut down. Secondly I noticed that the laptop that controlled all the other components was missing. When I asked about where it was I was told that since the rest of the system wasn't working they had reformatted it and given it to their boss to use for his personal laptop! Here is another winner... I went on an annual inspection of remote systems. At one location I discovered that they said it hadn't worked properly in months, that it would just turn itself off and they didn't know what it was for anyway they only knew it was supposed to be on. I turned the system on and inspected it and everything appeared to be fine except for the fact that I had no reception from the satellite. I followed the cable to make sure it was hadn't been cut only to discover there was no antenna on the other end. When I asked they said that they had given it away because someone else needed it an they didn't know why it was there anyway. I ordered a replacement antenna and the power down symptom reappeared. I sat there for hours watching it and it wouldn't shut down then someone from the neighboring office came by and asked me what I was doing there so I explained and they said that "I never see anybody using that thing anyway and it just makes it hotter in my office so I come by every day and turn it off. Nobody has ever complained to me about it". Problem solved. Since they didn't know what it was for and hadn't been using it I asked for permission to relocate it someone who was waiting for one. I got permission and showed up to remove it when someone finally asked me "Not that we will miss it but what is that thing for?" I told them what it did and that it was being given to another organization and an immediate look of panic showed up in his face. Next thing his boss was there telling me that we couldn't move it because they desperately needed it and had placed an urgent order for one months ago!

kj7gs
kj7gs

Was running the head honcho through a new-user training program back in the 80's when the machines first came out. Watching over his shoulder as the computer showed the keyboard, and said, "here's the Enter key...it works just like a "return" key on a typewriter. Now you try it! Press Enter..." The programmer didn't think ahead far enough to tell the user to release the key. Crashed the program and he walked away with his proof that these contraptions were useless.

miauwington
miauwington

Haha that's hilarious ! Ofcourse the Nigerian royalty scams work. Some Africans are doing this 24/7...calling on the phone, seducing people, even pretending to be of the other sex. It only takes one fool out of 100 000. Same thing with mass viagra spam. It's all about the scale.

ChrisHyche@AlabamaOne.Org
ChrisHyche@AlabamaOne.Org

I used to have issues were most users I asked the OS version had Windows 97. Really it was Win 95 or 98 with Office 97 installed. Seems like I got a few Windows 2003s (Not server) in later years.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

My coffee cup doesn't fit the holder...

asotelo
asotelo

I worked for a utility company and they had just purchased a very expensive database solution. The manual was the size of a phone book and it was hard to master the program for us IT, let alone for the users. One of the major flaws of this particular behemoth, was that the main screen had the first option; HELP after you chose HELP, the next page showed the option: GUIDES the next one: PRINT ALL GUIDES. How to chose an item? PRESS THE SPACE key!!! One time I heard the printer starting to print frantically. I went over and saw that ALL of the GUIDES (about 30) were printing!!! If the printer was shut off, the program would crash and to recover the database (10 megs... huge back in those days!! hard drives were 30 megs) we had to pay the company and wait a week to 10 days for it. So we had to let the program continue printing. How did it happen?? The Data clerk rested the manual on the KEYBOARD!!! mainly the SPACE key. I wrote a very nasty letter to the software company and told them that this was very unacceptable, to just chose items with the space bar. I said: "if you could only put a warning that says: You are about to print over 500 pages, are you sure you want to continue?" and have the user acknowledge without pressing SPACE of course!!! It sounds very funny now, but it was horrific then.... LOL!!!