Enterprise Software

More than social networking: Don't count out Twitter as a useful support tool

Twitter is often decried as a frivolous time-waster, but Derek Schauland finds that it can also be an important support resource, if used the right way.

Twitter is often decried as a frivolous waste of time, but Derek Schauland finds that it can also be an important support resource, if used the right way.

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Twitter is all the rage lately as it seems everyone from Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) to editors and contributors at TechRepublic (@jasonhiner and @webjunkie) are all over this thing. We use it mostly to share ideas as well as the implied, "What are you doing?" update, but what if Twitter was used to solve a real support issue?

At my day job recently, I ran into a problem with a client application failing to install because Internet Explorer 5.5 or later is required. This was quite perplexing because the computer is indeed running IE 7.

After doing more than a fair amount of digging, I found that Internet Explorer was missing its version information.

Missing version information causes problems

When I opened the Help menu in Internet Explorer 7 and chose About, the version information was, in fact, missing. Sure the splash screen shows Internet Explorer 7, but without the version number, there is apparently no other way for Windows and other applications to identify and confirm that it's a compatible browser.

I went scouring the Internet for some kind of solution to try. I posted in the MVP newsgroups and the TechNet forums and looked all over Google, but nothing immediately presented itself as a solution.

Twitter to the rescue

I thought I should tweet about the issue and see if anyone else had encountered this problem. I sent it to two contacts and was pleasantly surprised to see that there was indeed some documentation on this issue. In no time, @mpkassner (Michael Kassner is also a TechRepublic contributor for the IT Security blog) came back with a document from Symantec.

The document mentioned that scrauth.dll and jscript.dll may need to be reregistered after an install or uninstall of Norton Internet Security. The document also suggested that in the event these steps do not work, reinstalling Windows Script Host should remedy the issue.

After a couple attempts to register the dll files with no luck, I downloaded and installed the Windows Script Host on the machine. As soon as this completed, and following the required restart, the client application installed right away.

Don't underestimate a resource

Twitter and @mpkassner provided a great support shortcut to a nagging little problem. Just because a service is tagged as a "social" network — which some say has no place in business — doesn't mean it's always frivolous. Sometimes it's a resource that can offer the best way to get to the bottom of a problem.

About

Derek Schauland has been tinkering with Windows systems since 1997. He has supported Windows NT 4, worked phone support for an ISP, and is currently the IT Manager for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin.

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