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.

  • Joe Rosberg // August 6, 2008, 10:59 AM PST

    Vista's recommended system requirements were not realistic

    Did Microsoft sell itself short when it listed the recommended requirements for Vista? Would it have been better received had Microsoft originally presented Vista as requiring a powerful hardware platform to run efficiently? Do other manufacturers understate their system requirements?


  • Tricia Liebert // August 5, 2008, 12:36 AM PST

    Providing the right kind of help

    In the world of supporting end users, sometimes the solution is clear. Sometimes the best solution is to take a bit of time and teach the end user how to solve their own problems. You don't want them taking a screwdriver to the pc, but they can make small adjustments that result in improved user experience over all.


  • Jeff Dray // August 4, 2008, 5:51 AM PST

    Lo, the gas man cometh

    There are times when the cheapest option may not be the best, but how do you justify going for the more expensive option? A recent transaction with a utility provider got me thinking about this equation.


  • William Jones // July 31, 2008, 10:48 AM PST

    Go under your Mac's hood with the OS X Terminal

    Apple's Mac OS X has a powerful command-line interface that many users will never even know exists. It's not for everyone, but for techs the Terminal can be a powerful tool. If you haven't explored the command-line resources provided with OS X, here's where to begin.


  • Joe Rosberg // July 30, 2008, 11:14 AM PST

    The one terabyte disk: Is it reliable?

    About a year ago, when major manufacturers made their first terabyte disk drives available to the public, a storage capacity barrier had been broken, albeit a mental one more so than a technological one. I've wondered about reliability, so it's time to explore their popularity and levels of success.


  • Jeff Dray // July 28, 2008, 6:32 AM PST

    Learning to say no!

    Harping again on the subject of stress and burnout, I recently learned about the art of saying no. You will find that regularly taking on any job that you are asked to do will result in more tasks and projects coming your way.


  • William Jones // July 24, 2008, 7:46 AM PST

    Sysadmin Day: a day for techies to celebrate each other

    Systems Administrator Appreciation Day was originally created so 'civilians' could commemorate the individuals they rely on for their technology support. IT folks shouldn't lie idle this Friday, though. They should use the day to thank the people who support them.


  • Joe Rosberg // July 23, 2008, 1:18 AM PST

    Helping users optimize their Internet connection speed

    With users becoming more reliant on a speedy Internet connection, including file downloads and e-mail attachments, it might be worthwhile to test their connection speed and make upgrades accordingly.


  • Jeff Dray // July 21, 2008, 5:53 AM PST

    Button pressers and non-button pressers

    Some people ask for help, others work it out for themselves. Is this what makes the difference between a help desk tech and a user?


  • Tricia Liebert // July 17, 2008, 12:51 AM PST

    Customer service the right way

    Bad customer service stories are everywhere. They are so prevalent that a quick search revealed over two million hits. So what is customer service the right way? And is it possible that we get so run down by receiving bad service that it spills into our own performance?


  • William Jones // July 16, 2008, 8:52 PM PST

    Supporting support: Where does the help desk fit in your IT planning?

    There are lots of best practices that have been developed for IT management, but an organization's culture might resist efforts at standardization. This time, a peek behind the curtain to see a particular problem for small offices -- scaling support capacity.


  • Joe Rosberg // July 16, 2008, 12:02 PM PST

    Helping users remember their passwords

    Passwords: They should be made difficult to guess, you should change them periodically, you shouldn't write them down, and they're hard to remember. What advice should be given to users regarding password management strategy?


  • Jeff Dray // July 14, 2008, 7:56 AM PST

    Managing those extra tasks

    There's a minefield of tasks out there, coming your way from an overzealous manager with such preambles as "can you just-" "would you mind popping over to-," and "when you've got a moment-." Beware: sometimes these "half-tasks" are more involved than you think.


  • William Jones // July 10, 2008, 4:53 PM PST

    Keep Thunderbird from building too big a nest on your hard disk

    Mozilla's Thunderbird is a great cross-platform alternative for reading e-mail. I've found that the software can require some tuning to provide the best possible experience, though. Here's a tip to keep your Thunderbird install speedy and healthy: compact your mailboxes.


  • Joe Rosberg // July 9, 2008, 11:31 AM PST

    The best thanks might be no thanks at all

    Is providing user support a thankless job, or is the best thanks to hear nothing at all? Joe Rosberg explores that question, and explains how he adheres to the axiom, no news is good news.