back to article Angry user demands three site visits to fix email address typos

Welcome again to On-Call, our week-ending wander through readers' tales of horrible problems they've been asked to fix at horrible times. This week, reader “Jack” explains that in desperation he once took a job with a small integrator that specialised in small businesses and won a deal to implement just about the full …

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Facepalm

Oh man, I feel his pain

Walked a mile in those shoes... Education can be a rough place to work. Just as doctors are the worst patients, educators can be the worst learners....

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Re: Oh man, I feel his pain

Me too. Spent 3 yr in a school as "the IT Guy" getting that grief from uneducated educators.

A highlight was being shouted at down the phone about a broken printer in an offsite building only to get there and find the printer out of paper. Pointed this to said shouter to get a grunt and no apology.

Schools are often an early job for IT folk but it's a baptism of fire best kept short.

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Re: Oh man, I feel his pain

educators can be the worst learners

In fairness to educators, a school bursar is really an accounts clerk with an impressive job title.

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Re: Oh man, I feel his pain

In fairness to educators, a school bursar is really an accounts clerk with an impressive job title.

that still doesn't excuse their rude manners, full on ignorance and (in many cases) refusing to correct said ignorance...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh man, I feel his pain

The company I work for has to deal with the education sector and teachers are the worse. Most believe it is always someone else's fault and never their own, will blame their mistake on something having not been explained or documented well enough or it not working as they think it should. There are a few who will be gracious and apologetic in accepting it was their mistake. Most just leave in a huff while retaining the belief in their own superiority.

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Re: Oh man, I feel his pain

Never had many issues with the Bursar (usually an ex-military man in the school I worked in) but the School secretary / Rector's PA was always a psychopath usually with a large chip on one shoulder to complement the hairy lip-mole

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Re: Oh man, I feel his pain

"educators can be the worst learners...."

I remember reading at one time that the typical education major in the US ranked in the bottom 40% of their class despite a course load was less than rigorous. For example, a person preparing to teach math was not required major in Math and only required to take the basic required math courses.

My experience has tended to confirm that, as a group, they're not the sharpest knives in the drawer.

It also led me to cherish those outstanding teachers that my daughters did have.

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Re: Oh man, I feel his pain

"something having not been explained or documented well enough"

This isn't exactly an unknown situation.

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Re: Oh man, I feel his pain

I remember reading at one time that the typical education major in the US ranked in the bottom 40% of their class despite a course load was less than rigorous. For example, a person preparing to teach math was not required major in Math and only required to take the basic required math courses.

My experience has tended to confirm that, as a group, they're not the sharpest knives in the drawer.

The reason being low pay and much abuse. You get what you pay for. Nobody in their right mind is a teacher in the U.S.

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I'm angry just reading that. These are the type of people I hate the most. Ones who know they can't use a computer, refuse to learn how to use it (or fix the areas of their knowledge that is lacking), and when something goes wrong its the computer's fault not their own incompetence.

I am forever getting emails from Apple saying "Someone has reset your account". I'm duly concerned - well used to be - as I thought it was someone tinkering with my account. But no, it's the mother-in-law resetting her password again because she can't remember the simple password she told me to enter in for her that she uses for her work and has written down. But it's not her problem, it's the stupid computer's fault for not recognising the correct password she's entering in. Forgetting, of course, that a computer only does what it's told. It won't take a password you've entered and because it's having a particularly shitty day thinks "You know what, no. I'm not having this password even though it's correctly typed because I'm having a bad day. Piss off and try again later".

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Devil

Well that happens to me all the time. I type the wretched password in which I know is right four times and each time it tells me it's wrong. By the fifth time it gets the message.

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I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

I don't get all superior or arsey about it; I just say no. Because it'll be nothing I haven't explained time and time again.

Being able to use a computer today to get stuff done is a necessity and I don't see why I should aid and abet people who are proud to be ignorant.

I was on a tube, idly observing a skinny man-bun scrolling through some witless feed about irrelevancies on his iPhone. He pressed the home button, and I noticed that his iPhone had one pending software update (we were nowhere near a release date), and 77 pending app updates. That's the technological equivalent of letting a cyst grow to the size of football and still not seeing a doctor. Idiocy, laziness and ignorance in one hipster-sized package.

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Anonymous Coward

Ha! Mother-in-laws! I store my passwords in one of those secure password apps, and offered to store one of MIL's passwords in case she forgets it. No, she doesn't trust me. One day she forgets (of course) and asks me for help. I look in my password app, and there is a note I wrote in the password field: "When [MIL] forgets her password and asks for help, tell her I told her so." So I did.

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Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

One day I has a call from family member name redacted asking “How do I uninstall and re-install Windows Explorer”. Err year right, um no, you can’t do that I explained, what’s the problem I asked.

Him, being an avid reader of every monthly computer magazine (especially if they has a free cover CD), had installed SIX free trail anti-virus programs at the same time. When he powered on his computer they were all trying to scan the hard disk and falling over each other.

It took me day to sort that out, and two minutes to pull the data cable from the CD drive.

About a month later I had another call, “I can’t load a program from the CD drive.” Oh, well those free CD’s are notorious bad quality and can never be relied on to work on every computer I replied.

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Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

It depends on the iPhone, doesn't it? I have a lot of pending updates on my iPhone 4. No point in applying them.

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah I've spent ages trying to type in a password, getting locked out only to find that the remote connection wasn't using the correct keyboard layout and the special characters were being incorrectly interpreted. It's just US<-> other keyboard issue?

Nope, it's vmware https://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2071245

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Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

One of the best things about everyone being forced into Windows 10 is I explain (kindly) to the friend/family member that I cannot help them because I have no experience with Windows 10. If they try to push the matter (usually by explaining "it's a simple problem" or "all computers work the same") I then tell them that I have not even upgraded our office computers to Windows 10 because it was so different and everyone would need retraining. Again, underlining that I have no experience with it.

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Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

I'll help family but they've all been warned now that I'm not their whore to rent out after getting roped into helping great uncles, neighbours and neighbours friends.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

"I'll help family but they've all been warned now that I'm not their whore to rent out after getting roped into helping great uncles, neighbours and neighbours friends."

And if they reply, "Yes you are...unless you want to be DISOWNED from the family, which would include losing invitations to reunions, dinners, parties, etc. and possibly being written out of wills..."

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Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

"I'm not their whore to rent out "

Well, if they were actually renting me out.....

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Happy

Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

"And if they reply, "Yes you are..."

Rejoice!

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Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

A lawyer friend and I joke that we are people who walk backwards on social occasions. Once people find out what they do they tend to advance with demands about wills, disputes with neighbours, problems with getting DSL routers to work, Windows questions etc. We find ourselves taking a step backwards to try to re-establish our personal space at which point the parasites will take a step forward. I had one person have a bit of a fit at me when he was pushing for advice on how to secure his computer to keep the police away from it (yes, I wondered about that). When I asked him what he did for a living he said he valeted cars. So I told him I'd answer his question if he would clean my car for free. He didn't like that.

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"Ones who know they can't use a computer"

The problem is that they know they can use a computer and what's more they know they know more than you. The Dunning Kruger effect.

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"Well that happens to me all the time. I type the wretched password in which I know is right four times and each time it tells me it's wrong."

Sometimes it's the shitlock that's on. No, that wasn't a typo.

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Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

Now I'm retired I won't help ANYONE with their IT problems.

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That's an awesome KB. Makes me think we need a reader-discovered amusing KB hotline.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

> A lawyer friend and I joke that we are people who walk backwards on social occasions.

In fairness, it's your fault for being honest about what you do.

While my line of work is neither law nor computer repair nor anything that people will ask questions about, it can be classed as "too difficult to explain" (tell the truth, I haven't a clue myself what I actually do for a living), so on social occasions I either bounce the question back ("What do *you* do?"), tell them it's not any of their business, or just say something that strongly suggests I engage in surreptitious commerce of controlled substances, depending on how much of an interest I have on holding a conversation with the other party.

I got caught out on one memorable occasion when going for option #3 and my interlocutor very confidently said "No, you don't". I asked him how he could possibly know, to which the reply came: "I'm a police officer and I know my customers".

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Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

"A lawyer friend and I joke that we are people who walk backwards on social occasions."

I was fixing a PC for a doctor once. In his surgery. Having more jobs to get to, I just wanted to get it fixed and get out (hardware support only) but he kept on with "while you're here, can you just..." type of requests. The usual stuff of, "how do I print this, why do I have to do that, why can't I just..." etc

Eventually I mentioned the nail infection on my big toe and what should I do about it. "See your doctor", he says. "Ok, bye then" sez me,

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I've had to change a password because a non alphanumerical character in the password works on the Mac desktop/laptop but not from the Android phone. I determined it was this character causing the problem. I presume an incompatible ASCII code between the two systems.

As a result any password that might have to be inputed in both systems does not have non alphanumerical characters, lowering the security of them. Frankly it puts me off doing stuff on my phone.

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Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

The answer to 'unless you want to be DISOWNED' is: "See if I care."

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Vic
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Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

And if they reply, "Yes you are...unless you want to be DISOWNED from the family, which would include losing invitations to reunions, dinners, parties, etc. and possibly being written out of wills..."

Deal.

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

"I'll help family but they've all been warned now that I'm not their whore to rent out after getting roped into helping great uncles, neighbours and neighbours friends."

And if they reply, "Yes you are...unless you want to be DISOWNED from the family, which would include losing invitations to reunions, dinners, parties, etc. and possibly being written out of wills..."

Hmmm, not having to listen to Uncle Know-It-All, Auntie Religious, Brother-in-law KKK, Cousin Second Amendment, and the Older Relative Organ recital (oh, my stomach, oh, my liver, oh my eyes,.....) And, not having to reciprocate or shell out for gifts, etc. Might be a wash in savings now versus inheritance later......

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Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

"In fairness, it's your fault for being honest about what you do."

Given what I do for a living (it's not computer repair) I'm always vague about my job. Unfortunately at most social gatherings there will always be someone who knows that I "do something with computers" and someone who knows that my friend does "something with the law" and those people will be daft enough to tell others their version of what they think we do.

The fact that he's a senior Professor who serves most of his time on international committees and government bodies that create and review the law means nothing to them. They want someone to sort out their divorce/dispute with an ebay seller/car accident compo claim for free. Similarly with me, yes I can configure a desktop PC but many of my clients tend to have "plc" in their name and I've never worked on one-to-one tech support for private individuals.

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Make it longer

"As a result any password that might have to be inputed in both systems does not have non alphanumerical characters, lowering the security of them. Frankly it puts me off doing stuff on my phone."

You do realise that the use of "special characters" does not confer some magical security characteristic on a password, don't you? It's just enlarging the character set that would have to be tried for brute forcing a password (the days when American hackers would not think to use the £ character are long gone). Hence you can restore the security of your password by making it longer. One alphanumeric character longer is sufficient to overcome the lack of a special character in a password.

See: XKCD: Password Strength for a decent explanation.

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Re: Make it longer

"See: XKCD: Password Strength for a decent explanation."

Until you run into someone with a VERY bad memory, in which case they'll stumble over themselves wondering, "Now was it CORRECTHORSEBATTERYSTAPLE or Paperclip_Engine_Donkey_Wrong?"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I generally now won't help any family members or friends with any IT problems

The correct response to that threat, is of course. "Bye"

If they're that nasty, they're doing you a favour by disowning you.

'course, they'll probably immediately back down anyway.

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Coat

Obviously...

...she was off her dried frog pills.

Mine's the one with the Terry Pratchett book in the pocket

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Thumb Up

Re: Obviously...

You beat me to it.

I wonder if it'd be possible to place a target over her desk and then position yourself in an office across the hall for some crossbow shooting practise.

But, good lord, these people are educators who work with kids? Time to pull out Pink Floyd's The Wall methinks.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Obviously...

Not all of them are bad ...

My wife is a primary school teacher and she is completely at home with Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 10 (thank <deity> she missed Windows 8) and even Linux! More to the point she understands mail bounce messages, so if she does mistype an e-mail address she knows what to do!

Funny thing is that at one of her previous schools a member of staff looked after the IT systems. He would regularly borrow my (then 16 year old) son to help him sort out issues, including upgrading all of the laptops to the latest from Redmond. He trusted my son to sort things out more than he trusted any other member of staff!

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Stop

Ah, yes...

The mantra of small businesses everywhere is "Never turn down business", and generally that's a philosophy I can understand (I do occasionally quote deliberately very high, though, if I really think the job will be more painful than it is worth).

Education, though? No. In 35 years in the industry, I have *never* had a good experience with a client in the education business.

GJC

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Re: Ah, yes...

"Education, though? No. In 35 years in the industry, I have *never* had a good experience with a client in the education business."

Not in my experience. If the users were "local", then yes, they know everything about everything.

But our remote user were different. Their calls would start with "I have no idea what I'm doing, so just talk slow and I'll follow you". And they did, they'd even learn from our previous calls and do the job themselves.

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Re: Ah, yes...

Goodness. Well, I guess there had to be one, somewhere. Hang onto them...

GJC

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Re: Ah, yes...

"But our remote user were different."

That's because remote users have to book a call out that likely isn't going to be same day or, for software issue might mean not only a long phone conversation, but the user actually having to type stuff instead of wandering off for a coffee while the "expert" fixes it.. Local users are lazy because they have an "expert" on tap whenever required.

Of course now we have remote desktop access and the like, some remote users can be just as lazy.

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And who loves the autocomplete function on Outlook when it corrupts the email addresses on the sly? Had this happen more than once, with the user insisting the email address was correct (by using the autocomplete feature)...

Simply by deleting the offending email address (or the nuclear option, delete the autocomplete database) fixed things until the next corruption occur...

Also had my share of users typing in incorrect email addresses, then sending the bounce message to me asking what is ger-wrong...

And you get systems where users doesn't clean out their mailboxes (POP3 accounts), it get full and you get bounce messages to attest to that fact, which necessitates an email to somebody else to kindly ask the person concerned to empty their mailbox.

Fun times for sure...

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Flame

dunno how you've accululate 4 x downvotes as up for that!

nail . hammer . head etc spot on

outlooks "auto unfix" feature is a pain in the arse. While im on the subject the whole outlook address book thing pisses me off. If I wanted to actually extract the text of an email address , either sent , recieved , or in the book , its a fucking nightmare! its all microsoft-helpful-but-not giving me the display name, adding bits on , highlighting extra bits, putting it in a contact librarary , adding a "calling card" or some such bullshit - its virtually impossible to get the xxx@yyyy.zzz knub of the matter!

...back to this recently-used-addresses bullshit . That as 'Anonymous South African Coward' (as well as the author) mentions is one of the biggest perpetrators of the email "typo"

....and another thing that grinds my gears ...... people who use the "recently-used-guesswork" feature as some kind of address book ! (the same people who keep their favorite file in the outlook recycle bin) and then they whinge and bleat when you delete the "recent bullshit" database because its full of incorrect addresses

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Ah the memories...

From personal experience I can tell you one professional group that is worse:

Nurses!

To the 'tude add the look you get of "I've seen more men naked than a 2-bit hooker, often with a syringe in my rubber-gloved hands, therefore I know what you look like without clothes and I'm not impressed. Fix this computer problem or I swear I'll use a turkey baster as the syringe".

Truly frightening.

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Happy

Re: Ah the memories...

Tart!

Defo depends on the nurse though :-)

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Re: Ah the memories...

"To the 'tude add the look you get of "I've seen more men naked than a 2-bit hooker, often with a syringe in my rubber-gloved hands, therefore I know what you look like without clothes and I'm not impressed. Fix this computer problem or I swear I'll use a turkey baster as the syringe"."

So what happens if you return the look with kinky look of, "You know that kind of stuff turns me on. What do you plan to put in the syringe?" One of the best ways to defuse a threat is to reply that it isn't really a threat to you. The last thing a kidnapper saying, "We have your wife." wants to hear is, "Great! You can KEEP her!"

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Happy

Re: Ah the memories...

A friend of mine turned up to the pub on crutches with his ankle in plaster. He's a strapping lad from the grim frozen North (well Lancashire, it's ooop North to me). Works out, hard-drinking, no-nonsense type of chap.

So how did you get injured?

Turns out he was fleeing in terror from a 4'10" Kiwi nurse with amorous intentions - who'd taken a fancy to him at previous visits to the pub.

I have to admit we may have been less than sympathetic to his plight. I think I'd describe her as scarily determined...

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Trollface

Re: Ah the memories...

"Turns out he was fleeing in terror from a 4'10" Kiwi nurse"

4'10" ....

tall or wide?

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