User Support

When things go wrong, IT support professionals get the call. Here are the resources to help them improve their troubleshooting skills, their people skills, and their technical knowledge.

  • William Jones // December 11, 2008, 5:11 PM PST

    Supporting Macs in the enterprise: Eliminating malware

    In spite of their marketing message, Apple knows that their computers need to be protected from malware. Don't be caught unawares! Make sure your Macs are set for the day the big one hits.

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  • Joe Rosberg // December 10, 2008, 9:58 AM PST

    Which spyware removal tool do you use? Take the poll.

    Virus protection and a good spyware removal product are both vital tools for user support professionals. But which one to use? Take the poll and participate in the discussion.

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  • Jeff Dray // December 8, 2008, 4:04 AM PST

    Getting it all done, the art of time management

    Have you got a brain like a sieve or can you remember every little thing you are supposed to do? Do you have methods that help you to keep up with work or do you lurch from one crisis to the next on a daily basis? Jeff Dray is looking for time management tips.

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  • William Jones // December 4, 2008, 9:09 AM PST

    Help desk techs are owed overtime pay

    Many managers assume that salaried employees are exempt from overtime pay, but this is not necessarily true. According to U.S. labor laws, many support techs may be due for overtime compensation, regardless of what employers may want to believe. Are you affected?

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  • Joe Rosberg // December 3, 2008, 10:14 AM PST

    Supporting home users? Share your experience and take the poll

    It seems that supporting home users could provide a huge market for IT pros, but most would prefer to focus their attention on the business user. What are some pros and cons of supporting home users, what are some of the pitfalls to avoid, and what would be the right way to do it?

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  • Jeff Dray // December 1, 2008, 8:04 AM PST

    Offshoring the help desk

    If you think it is hard to understand people on off-shored support lines, spare a thought for those of us who get to do house calls in the more rural parts of Merry England. Blogger Jeff Dray illustrates how a common language can divide a nation.

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  • William Jones // November 27, 2008, 9:40 AM PST

    Living with elderly technology

    The old saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." New stuff is sexy, but sometimes there are good reasons for keeping older tools that are still serviceable.

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  • Joe Rosberg // November 26, 2008, 9:07 AM PST

    What to do when there's no one at the office (and a Happy Thanksgiving message)

    I went into the office the day before Thanksgiving, and the first clue as to what kind of day it was going to be could be found in the parking lot. It was practically empty. What to do?

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  • Jeff Dray // November 24, 2008, 6:11 AM PST

    Christmas on the help desk

    That time of year is coming around again, when people take time off to enjoy Christmas at home and the office starts to look empty, yet there is always a need to man the help desk.

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  • William Jones // November 20, 2008, 1:53 PM PST

    Tips for holiday tech support

    If you're going to be supporting friends and family in between servings of turkey and pumpkin pie, here are a few things to bear in mind beforehand.

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  • Joe Rosberg // November 19, 2008, 9:42 AM PST

    Customer service isn't just one thing, it's the only thing

    When considering the purchase of a piece of equipment or a service from someone, the quality and price of the product is a big consideration, but it's not the only one. The biggest consideration, at least in my opinion, is the level of the customer service behind the product - in fact, it's priceless.

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  • Jeff Dray // November 17, 2008, 5:36 AM PST

    Pyramid calling for the help desk

    The help desk works hard at customer relationships but does an automated call distributor help or hinder? When you need to disseminate information quickly, how much personalization do you have to trade off?

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  • Selena Frye // November 14, 2008, 4:43 AM PST

    Will remote support technology make your users happier with the help desk?

    One study finds that only one in five organizations gets good marks for meeting user expectations of tech support.

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  • William Jones // November 13, 2008, 7:33 AM PST

    Do not let equipment standardization lead to inflexibility

    In organizations with a lot of computers, using similar hardware wherever possible creates economies of scale. For support techs in particular, having standard machines makes it easier to provide consistent service, but we should not let loyalty to a specific platform blind us to other solutions when they are appropriate.

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  • Joe Rosberg // November 12, 2008, 12:54 PM PST

    A crazy idea -- put those dirty keyboards in the dishwasher

    It's been shown that keyboards hold more germs and bacteria than just about any other surface in the home or office. How do you clean them - or do you clean them at all?

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  • William Jones // May 28, 2009, 3:19 PM PST

    Support superheroes won't let users live in fear

    We may not rescue people from burning buildings or fight space robots, but support pros can perform a public service. We can make sure that our clients are not overwhelmed by a fear of screwing something up.

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  • Jeff Dray // June 1, 2009, 2:46 AM PST

    Can you rely on voice mail?

    Voice mail is still a source of great frustration, despite its common usage. There is an assumption that a message left on voice mail is a communication miss and that it will need to be followed up later with another call. Why don't we trust voice mail?

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  • Jeff Dray // May 18, 2009, 4:58 AM PST

    Shirt box training is alive and well and is living in England

    Some things never change; in fact, some practices are so ingrained that they can be regarded as traditions. Shirt box training is not to be included in this category. Help your users work with their tools more intelligently.

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  • William Jones // May 21, 2009, 9:01 AM PST

    Keep the bottom line in mind when providing support

    It is more important than ever to make sure that the IT department is in line with the core business goals. The help desk can play its part by being smart about triage.

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  • Joe Rosberg // May 20, 2009, 8:19 AM PST

    What's the best laptop computer on the market? Here's my choice

    When it comes to laptop computers, the products available run the gamut from adequate and inexpensive, to powerful and rather pricey. Ask yourself what it's going to be used for, and specify accordingly, getting the most bang for the buck. Here's mine.

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  • Jeff Dray // May 25, 2009, 4:32 AM PST

    Too many chiefs: Fielding multiple requests from above

    Jeff Dray has experienced the problem of having too many "bosses" making calls upon his time at once. How do you handle multiple requests from above -- especially when the tasks compete against one another?

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  • Joe Rosberg // May 27, 2009, 10:38 AM PST

    When the support shoe is on the other foot

    How will the users - our customers - reply when asked what kind of service they received from us? Here's a story about how to do get a good review - and how to get a bad one.

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  • Joe Rosberg // May 13, 2009, 12:00 AM PST

    Who owns corporate e-mail? Is there a right to privacy?

    Does a user have a right to privacy when it comes to corporate e-mail? Or is e-mail corporate property, subject to the whims of the company? Here's one story, what's yours? And take the poll.

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  • William Jones // May 14, 2009, 3:56 AM PST

    Put an audio recorder in your kit

    I have written before that support pros should have access to a digital camera as one of their tools. After all, as the adage says, a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes though, a picture falls far short of an actual recording of the sounds on site.

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  • Tricia Liebert // May 29, 2008, 10:18 PM PST

    Apple releases new update, patches iCal, Flash, and Apache

    Apple released patches for OS X that include security fixes for Flash, Apache, and one of three reported flaws in iCal. This software update brings the version of Leopard to 10.5.3 and provides additional stability and security to the operating system overall.

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  • Jeff Dray // May 31, 2008, 6:49 AM PST

    So why do managers collect so much data on the work we do?

    In all the reporting that must be done now, how do we account for the intangible benefits of providing good customer service and going the extra mile? Do we work for the customer or the bean counters?

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  • William Jones // June 1, 2008, 1:21 PM PST

    Balancing support and security: Do you encrypt your drives?

    Data security has become even more of a concern after some well-publicized blunders. Some experts recommend encrypting the entire drive of a computer to protect the data therein, but does this policy have fallout in the realm of user support?

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  • Jeff Dray // June 6, 2008, 7:12 AM PST

    Don't leave new helpdesk people to struggle

    Make sure that new help desk analysts understand the job before they start taking calls. Creating a documentation package for new hires ensures that they know all of the rules for your organization.

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  • Andy Moon // June 3, 2008, 1:38 PM PST

    How long will it be before Linux is on your desktop (if it isn't already)?

    Two of the world's largest Linux distributions, Ubuntu and Fedora, have put out new versions that are drawing some positive feedback. Ubuntu has been hailed as extremely user friendly, even for novice Linux users, and Fedora is said to be extremely configurable, though its flexibility comes at a price.

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  • Tricia Liebert // June 3, 2008, 10:13 PM PST

    Keeping IT working, even through a mortar attack

    Most of us will never experience life on the front lines. But here is a quick look at two guys that not only experience the front lines, they do it while keeping a network comprised of multiple levels of complexity up and running no matter what. It will make you think twice before complaining about your network infrastructure.

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