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.

  • Jeff Dray // March 23, 2009, 6:07 AM PST

    Freelance training, a good source of extra income

    Have you ever thought about making a little extra cash by helping out neighbours with their computer problems? It is not only a good way of helping others but will help you reinforce your own people and training skills.

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  • William Jones // January 8, 2009, 12:06 PM PST

    Born to be in IT?

    There are two basic ways to be good at something. Sometimes, proficiency is due to hard work; other times, it comes from an innate talent. Is there a trait that makes you uniquely suited for working with technology?

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  • Jeff Dray // January 12, 2009, 3:30 AM PST

    Are we giving the right kind of support to end users?

    Sometimes we need a bit of help from the manual but what if, in addition to failing to understand the technology, we have trouble understanding the instructions as well? It would be nice to be able to get the best from our gadgets.

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  • Joe Rosberg // January 14, 2009, 9:07 AM PST

    Do you ever send your users on a trip into the Twilight Zone? Take the poll.

    With all due credit given to the late Mr. Rod Serling, the very talented writer and creator of the original television series The Twilight Zone, see how one organization uses the concept to make sure the users on its network have computers that will behave themselves.

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  • William Jones // January 15, 2009, 2:53 PM PST

    Stall your upgrade to Internet Explorer 8

    Microsoft will be releasing the next version of IE soon, but you might want to hold off. If your organization relies on Web-based applications, you should make sure everything works with the new software before your clients upgrade.

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  • Jeff Dray // January 19, 2009, 5:13 AM PST

    Why soft skills may not be the whole solution but a big help

    When other functions fail, soft skills will help to build bridges and get customer relationships back on track. Where user support is concerned, a great deal of what you do is look after the people, with minimal technical knowledge and maximum hand-holding.

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  • Selena Frye // January 20, 2009, 5:30 AM PST

    Do you need emotional intelligence to be a better support tech?

    Do you need "emotional intelligence" to get ahead in your tech support career? What is EI exactly? Here's a Web seminar, a free online test, and a completely frivolous poll to get you started on earning a high EQ.

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  • Joe Rosberg // January 21, 2009, 10:03 AM PST

    Chain e-mails: We don't want them, but what to do?

    Chain e-mails. We've all received them, and most IT professionals probably loathe them. But how should we go about asking people to refrain from sending them without running the risk of offending a good friend or a relative? This is my stab at it.

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  • William Jones // January 22, 2009, 11:27 AM PST

    US-CERT drives Microsoft to fix Windows AutoRun problems

    AutoRun is a feature Microsoft includes in Windows as an enhancement to the user experience, but it is hardly perfect. Parties both shady and outright malicious have subverted AutoRun to execute code without input from the user. To make matters worse, US-CERT recently found that the instructions MS had published for disabling AutoRun were ineffective.

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  • Jeff Dray // January 26, 2009, 4:22 AM PST

    Building a relationship with your customers

    Whether you work in support for in-house users or for external commercial customers the people you work for are your customers. Building a good relationship with them is vital to help you through your working day and to understand their needs.

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  • Jeff Dray // February 23, 2009, 3:34 AM PST

    Age before beauty?

    Jeff Dray considers the age divide in the workplace. Youth and vigour, as well as age and experience, have their place in support roles, and the combination of the two benefits everyone.

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  • Selena Frye // February 25, 2009, 5:20 AM PST

    What's on your go-to equipment list?

    When replacing or upgrading hardware components, do you have a ready list of vendors and manufacturers that you go to or are you constantly on the lookout for a better product (or just a better deal)? What's on your "best-of-kit" list?

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  • Joe Rosberg // February 25, 2009, 9:30 AM PST

    Customer support intentions (take the poll) and some comments on providing excellent customer support

    Some readers are wondering about the motives and intentions of a customer support incident I've been writing about. Considering the history of what happened, what do you think? Take the poll - and in this case, since there's no way to get into the mind of another, it's merely an opinion poll.

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  • William Jones // February 26, 2009, 4:08 PM PST

    Support pros vs. social engineering attacks

    Developers should always work to make software secure, but it is up to support techs and trainers to inform users how they can keep themselves safe online.

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  • Jeff Dray // March 2, 2009, 3:29 AM PST

    Spring-cleaning your working life

    Jeff Dray's thoughts have turned to spring and renewal, and thus, the cleaning out and reorganization of his work life. It's time to delete files, throw out the rubbish, and order new supplies. How often do you inventory and clean out your work area?

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