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.

  • Tricia Liebert // October 8, 2008, 1:07 AM PST

    An IT life after fifty: Coping with the employment challenge

    The aging worker is up against challenges that we don't consider. Not only are they competing in a market that they don't completely understand, they are often in a position that they never thought they would find themselves in.


  • Jeff Dray // October 6, 2008, 7:18 AM PST

    Fixing computers or fixing people?

    Jeff Dray has been a support specialist for twenty years and has found that even when technical knowledge fails, possessing the right soft skills can help you become a successful help desk analyst.


  • Justin James // October 6, 2008, 2:03 AM PST

    Are you using virtualization on the desktop?

    Justin James says that he likes to use virtual machines on the desktop to experiment with new configurations of operating systems. Take this quick poll to let us know if your shop is using virtual machines on the desktop.


  • William Jones // October 2, 2008, 5:16 PM PST

    Boot a sick Mac into Target Disk Mode for troubleshooting

    William Jones shows you how to use one Mac to access the internal drive of another -- no screwdriver required.


  • Joe Rosberg // October 1, 2008, 9:34 AM PST

    What do you do with your downtime?

    The computers are all humming along just fine, the printers are all printing, the e-mails are all getting through, all software and hardware is upgraded to the latest and greatest, and no one is reporting any problems. Is it time to sit back, put your feet up, and read the newspaper, or is it time for something else?


  • Jeff Dray // September 29, 2008, 5:00 AM PST

    It can be hard not to laugh at silly user mistakes

    What do you do when the sparks fly and the customer rants? And when the customer realizes they've done something really stupid, how do you handle their embarrassment?


  • William Jones // September 25, 2008, 4:52 PM PST

    Delicious support documentation

    I have lost count of the number of support issues I have solved thanks to information I found on the Web. Keeping track of the gems I found online used to be a problem, until I started documenting them at


  • Joe Rosberg // September 24, 2008, 7:21 PM PST

    Do people present the biggest user support challenge?

    In a recent blog, I took a poll asking for votes on the biggest user support challenge. The winner was, "People: Users are too demanding, hard to work with, etc." What's the best way to deal with that challenge?


  • Jeff Dray // September 22, 2008, 5:00 AM PST

    Miracles take a little time: We do the impossible at once

    Jeff Dray discovers that, although he does his best to meet his customers' expectations, sometimes he can't produce the miracle that they seem to be asking for.


  • William Jones // September 18, 2008, 5:36 PM PST

    Clear usage policies protect everyone

    Many organizations employ computer usage guidelines, but it is easy to develop a gap between policy and reality. Support pros are likely to discover user transgressions in the course of their work. Do your techs know the role they should play in enforcing policy?


  • Joe Rosberg // September 17, 2008, 12:08 PM PST

    Maintaining an electronic library

    With more and more reference material being provided in electronic form, instead of the bulky, bound User's Guides, maintaining an electronic library on a networked drive might be helpful to users. Take the poll. Do you maintain an electronic library?


  • Jeff Dray // September 15, 2008, 5:30 AM PST

    Documentation: The scourge of my life!

    Sometimes the last thing we think of when we learn a new routine is the documentation process, but we know it is a vital, if dull, part of life.


  • William Jones // September 11, 2008, 3:56 PM PST

    Put a camera in your kit

    Computer support is all about having the right tools. Any IT shop worth its salt is going to have a basic complement of equipment, but what else should be on your workbench? Here's why a digital camera needs to be within reach.


  • Joe Rosberg // September 10, 2008, 11:35 AM PST

    When searching for that elusive solution, don't overlook anything

    When you're troubleshooting a problem, and the answer remains elusive, don't overlook anything as the culprit, even the most unlikely - or lame - possibility.


  • Andy Moon // September 9, 2008, 2:23 PM PST

    Chrome continues to make the news

    Dreams of ultra-portable PCs accessing Web applications delivered over the 'net via Chrome are dancing in some people's heads like sugarplums.