back to article User needed 40-minute lesson in turning it off and turning it on again

If it's Friday it must be time for me to file On-Call and then start drinking so you can start the last day of the week with one of our always-amusing tales of nasty jobs done at nasty times. This week, reader “Kevin” shared a story from his time working a hell desk late shift. With just a few minutes to go before quitting …

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"Oh you mean the button I use to switch it off with?"

And finally we find out why shampoo bottles have instructions on them. For dingbats like this woman.

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Some people need toilet paper bearing instructions in large print...

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LDS
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Looking at how some people leave a toilet after using it, they need a lot of instructions... maybe a toilet paper roll is not long enough.

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"You know there are some idiots still in the shower. Because it doesn't say, 'Dry your hair. Try it again tomorrow," man."

- Bill Engvall, "Here's Your Sign".

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@LDS

Maybe they need the instructions printing on BOTH SIDES

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re. shampoo bottle

But it says "rinse and repeat" so I just kept doing that.

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"Looking at how some people leave a toilet after using it, they need a lot of instructions..."

It's amazing how many folks can't even cope with instructions like "Sit down and follow the force of gravity while going number twos", was that bog in zero-g when they used it or what ?!

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no no no, it needs to be pictures not words :)

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Some people need toilet paper bearing instructions in large print...

Media Studies Degree. Please take one?

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To be fair I just spent several minutes looking for the switch to turn a newly installed HP printer on.

When I finally found it (press the white HP logo on the white front of the machine so it lights up white)

A secretary walked in and pointed out the illuminated HP logo on the identical model next to it.

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It should be the pop up edition

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"(press the white HP logo on the white front of the machine so it lights up white)"

Must've been designed by Hotblack Desiato's brother.

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@frank ly Re: re. shampoo bottle

You're a programmer, aren't you? Or possibly a bot. Or a user. Hard to tell, really.

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I've got better things to do

I always leave the toilet after using it. You think I want to sit there all afternoon reading my email?

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Pint

"...why shampoo bottles have instructions on them..."

"Lather. Rinse. Repeat."

Uh oh...

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

HELP!!!

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

ARGH!!! HELP!!!!

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

HELP!!!! I'M TRAPPED...

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

...

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Then there's the people who stare at a box of orange juice for 30 minutes because it says "concentrate".

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"Some people need toilet paper bearing instructions in large print..."

Page one: How To Find Your Arse With Both Hands.

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no no no, it needs to be pictures not words :)

Having, not so long ago, had to set up a consumer-model HP printer whose instructions were supplied only in pictures, I can say that words would have been much clearer ... even words in Chinese would have been no less clear!

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Coat

poop up surely?

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Re: Some people need toilet paper bearing instructions in large print...

"Media Studies Degree. Please take one?"

Do you mind! I studied very hard at The University of Andrex for my degree.

You wanna go LARGE with that?

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Not the same at all

Your printer was 'newly installed.' The caller was already familiar with turning her computer on and off. Here in America, Consumer Reports famously faulted the original Macintosh computer because it's tester could not figure out how to turn it on (by pressing a certain key on the keyboard) without reading the instructions.

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Classic Carlin

Cookie box says "open here." I'm glad it doesn't say "open somewhere else", I'd be all day trying to find a good spot!

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Facepalm

... I often try to talk calmly and reassuringly to doors when they bear a sign saying "This door is alarmed". Generally, there's nothing for it to worry about.

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Trollface

Don't knock it! I do this professionally, and it's often just "turning it off and on again"...!!

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Boffin

@ RIBrsiq - I do this professionally

"Don't knock it! I do this professionally, and it's often just "turning it off and on again"...!!"

Your comment following on from Cp'n Daft's comment ...

"Page one: How To Find Your Arse With Both Hands." ...

1. Does finding your *rse with both hands pay well?

2. What are your prospects for career development?

3. How do you turn your *rse off and on again? Please provide detailed instructions. (Enquiring minds etc.)

4. If the answer to 2 involves being given a brush, is that a prerequisite for 3?

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Can you hold down the power button

"power button"

As in Power Rangers, Power supply, etc.

Rule number one ( and not just in IT) Sorry for shouting this, but, YOU DO NOT USE JARGON TERMS UNLESS YOU KNOW THE USER.

In this case, starting at base level you should be saying, "There's an on and off button on the box....etc." And yes, there are still plenty of people who think turning off the screen is like turning off the telly. Even though they sit in an office all day using the damn things. But then, how many drivers have no idea how to top-up the jets, check they tyres etc.

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Re: Can you hold down the power button

Agreed. The issue here was miscommunication - the woman obviously didn't know much about computers, but she did know how to turn one off and on again - she just didn't understand what she was being asked to do. I suspect a simplification of language could have saved our hero 30 minutes of free time.

That said, sacking her for being a dingbat would seem like a sensible solution too - after all if she's this challenged at one thing, she's probably this challenged at many others too.

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Re: Can you hold down the power button

If power button/switch is to be considered jargon, we might as well give up, turn the lights off, and go home. That's if we can find the light switch.

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Re: miscommunication/dingbat

Yep, one could argue that the problem was equal on both ends of the phone.

As for the dingbat thing, too many people in IT are far too inclined to look down on people who don't happen to care about IT. There are many skills and talents required to run a business. The 'talent' to sit down all day doing a mind numbingly boring repetitive task may not be well regarded, but the output may be just as vital as any other aspect of the business, and the people who have the mindset to do it should be celebrated, not least for making it possible for folks like you and me not to do the tasks...

In DOS wordperfect days I recall an aggrieved user agressively complaining down the phone one morning that since I'd looked at her PC all she had left on the screen were random letters. On visiting site I turned up the brightness so that more than the highlighted letters were visible. Doubtless the cleaner had accidentally tweaked it. But I was reminded of this yesterday reading some oral history from the Korean War in which a pilot was telling the story of his gunsight problems... While he was complaining to his senior officer about how difficult it was to do ground attack without a decent gunsight an NCO came in and said:

"We've found the problem with your gunsight sir"

"Poor maintenance"

"No, sir, we've turned the brilliance control up for you"

Nothing changes...

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Headmaster

Re: Can you hold down the power button

You've told people not to use jargon, but I have no idea whatsoever what 'top-up the jets' means*. As far as I know, my car has a four-stroke petrol engine, no jet power in sight.

*I had a quick Google for it and I'm not much wiser. Unlike checking the tyres, it doesn't seem to be something the average car owner would want to do for themselves. Saying that 'power button' is jargon is the same as saying 'put the key in the ignition' is jargon. No, at some point you have to be aware of such fundamental terms to be a user of any kind of machinery or tech. Jets? As a driver I don't need to know about that - I drive the car, but I pay my garage to service it. And yes, I can 'check the tyres'.

I'd maintain that 'power button' is absolutely NOT 'jargon'. If someone is employed to use a computer at work all day, I'd hope that their standard of education is such that they can understand basic concepts such as that. He'd already 'asked her to turn it off and turn it on again', and she later said 'Oh you mean the button I use to switch it off with?' Neither 'turn it off' or 'switch it off' are 'jargon'.

I had an IT manager - a MANAGER mind you, of an office full of IT equipment and employees - who when told to type in something and press the Enter key said 'what's the Enter key?' Having to tell someone that it's the big key with 'Enter' printed on it was embarrassing for both of us. It's hard not to lose it in those situations.

Jargon isn't the problem. Some people are just morons who shouldn't have passed the interview for the job in the first place.

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Re: Can you hold down the power button

"I'd maintain that 'power button' is absolutely NOT 'jargon'. If someone is employed to use a computer at work all day, I'd hope that their standard of education is such that they can understand basic concepts such as that. He'd already 'asked her to turn it off and turn it on again', and she later said 'Oh you mean the button I use to switch it off with?' Neither 'turn it off' or 'switch it off' are 'jargon'."

Unless it's a device that doesn't normally get turned off. Like the air conditioning, or managed lights, or in this case a modern computer, which normally gets put to sleep, not turned off.

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Re: Can you hold down the power button

> You've told people not to use jargon, but I have no idea whatsoever what 'top-up the jets' means*.

I'd hazard a guess he's American and means topping up the screenwash, but it is only a guess.

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Facepalm

Re: Can you hold down the power button

> You've told people not to use jargon, but I have no idea whatsoever what 'top-up the jets' means*.

I'd hazard a guess he's American and means topping up the screenwash, but it is only a guess.

When I had an informal help role at a previous job (informal in that the company didn't see the need for a proper IT person when they had me knocking about who "knew a bit about computers") I used to get quite depressed at the lack of thinking involved sometimes. I likened it to the following hypothetical situation:

Newly-qualified driver sets out on their own for the first time. After a couple of days of happily running to the shops and taking their mum to the hairdresser's (or whatever), one day the car splutters and stops at the side of the road. Fearing the worst, the driver calls the AA/RAC/Green Flag/Best-mate-who-knows-about-cars and waits anxiously to be rescued.

It turns out that the problem is simply lack of fuel. "Why didn't you fill it up when the fuel gauge was showing low?", "What's a fuel gauge? I never had to fill up my instructor's car."

I often had people who couldn't understand why I got cross(*) with people who couldn't check the printer settings or reset the page margins or change a formula in a spreadsheet, because "it's a computer and only people like you understand computers". Using the above example often made them think again, particularly when the person I was getting cross with was (as was often the case) somebody who had been specifically hired to maintain a spreadsheet (or whatever) and had recently returned from a three day training course and still couldn't understand cell references properly.

M.

(*)Not to their faces, understand, but I'd moan about it later to anyone who would listen.

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Headmaster

Re: Can you hold down the power button

All of this does rather make you wonder though how she turns the thing on every morning, given she only knows that button as the one to power it off? Especially given turning it off would more likely involve the Windows start menu/button than anything else and the button would actually only be used to start it...

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Re: Can you hold down the power button

Power button?

I think that you mean "Access Standby" or "Mode Execute Ready".

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Re: Can you hold down the power button

"All of this does rather make you wonder though how she turns the thing on every morning,"

Given that more often than not the computer isn't off but asleep, moving the mouse or pressing a key usually wakes it up again.

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Facepalm

Re: Can you hold down the power button

"Newly-qualified driver sets out on their own for the first time."

Um, I resemble that remark...

Ok, so I at least understood the concept of putting petrol in the car, but it turned out that nobody had ever shown me how to do it when I was learning to drive.

Still, 'it can't be that hard', thinks I, and when driving with my younger brother in my mum's car, I pull into the petrol station. I walk up to the petrol flap, stick my key in the keyhole, and turn the cap, trying to unscrew it.

It won't unscrew. It just freely rotates and won't come out. So I relock it, unlock it, and try again. Still no joy.

I try another couple of times. I ask a guy who's just pulled up, but he's got no idea either. At this point my brother is getting more and more embarrassed at being seen with me.

Eventually, I try locking the cap and then turning it. It screws right off.

Turns out my mum never bothered locking the fuel cap, so I'd been repeatedly locking it, trying to remove it, then unlocking it again. Still, I managed to get petrol, even if it did take ten minutes, but more importantly I embarrassed my little brother (I seem to remember that he was with his new girlfriend), and that's the important part :)

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WTF?

Re: Can you hold down the power button

...it's the big key with 'Enter' printed on it ...

Hmmm... I've worked in IT for longer than many of the readers have been alive so I hope I know at least a little bit about it. However I'm looking at my keyboard and I can't see a key with "Enter" written on it. Should I just continue using the big L-shaped key with a bent left-pointing arrow on it instead?

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Re: Can you hold down the power button

Sorry, I couldn't think of a concise phrase for the water that gets sprayed over the windscreen to clean it. But that just exemplifies what I maintain; that with an unknown user you have to make sure that you only use terms that are defined within every day language. It may be that "power button" is something that a non-technical user ought to be able to figure out for themselves means the on/off button. But not when they are stressed because they can't get their job done, are talking to a stranger on a phone about a machine that they use every day in very narrowly defined and controlled ways, but is now not doing what it has always done for no apparent reason.

PS found this in google in around 3 seconds, though I did cheat and add the word "water"

https://www.howacarworks.com/bodywork/checking-windscreen-wipers-and-washers

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Re: Can you hold down the power button

"Rule number one ( and not just in IT) Sorry for shouting this, but, YOU DO NOT USE JARGON TERMS UNLESS YOU KNOW THE USER."

There was a time when terms such as "clutch", "accelerator" and "gear" were technical terms. At some point it becomes a reasonable assumption that such things become part of everyday language and, indeed, unreasonable to assume they aren't.

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Re: Can you hold down the power button

"Having to tell someone that it's the big key with 'Enter' printed on it was embarrassing for both of us."

Both? Why? Surely only the one being told.

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Re: Can you hold down the power button

I used to get quite depressed at the lack of thinking involved sometimes

I sometimes[1] use the phrase "they phoned support in lieu of thinking for themselves".

[1] OK - I use it a lot. Fortunately, I don't work in frontline support any more. Mostly.

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Re: Can you hold down the power button

I've worked in IT for longer than many of the readers have been alive

[Usenet Mode=On]

AOL

{/UnM]

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WTF?

Re: Can you hold down the power button

You managed to find a keyboard that's old enough to have an L–shaped Return key, but which has it labeled as Enter like newer ones do? (Or is it just one of the high–priced reproductions for people that love mechanical switches?)

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Re: Can you hold down the power button

That's an entirely fallacious argument. I've never heard anyone talk about "putting their computer to sleep", and most places have energy saving policies regarding turning PCs, printers and lights off before leaving.

Just accept it, "Power button" is not jargon, it's not limited to IT kit but pretty much anything that uses electricity has one and, even if someone isn't used to hearing that particular phrase, they should have a basic enough level of comprehension to work it out. There's not excuse for not being able to work out what a power button is, not being able to find it is another matter, but not related to your nonsensical argument about jargon.

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Re: Can you hold down the power button

Unless it's a device that doesn't normally get turned off. Like the air conditioning, or managed lights, or in this case a modern computer, which normally gets put to sleep, not turned off.

Egads, another always on human.

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Ben Tasker Re: Can you hold down the power button

No, it's not an American term. I work on cars as a hobby, and the only "jets" I know of are in carburetors, for cars that have carburetors. (i.e. Not fuel injected.) And even the average owner of a carbureted car isn't going to even know what they are, much less do anything with them.

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Re: Can you hold down the power button

False analogy. Unlike with a car, computer users don't always (if ever) get lessons in how to drive the things.

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Re: Can you hold down the power button

Just asked a normal user in my office here if they would consider "power button" to be jargon, and they said "the on off button? I'd prefer it were called the on off button, yeah", so yes, they consider it jargon.

Which is actually a little surprising to me.

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Thumb Up

Re: Can you hold down the power button

Sounds very similar to "using a rental car"

I drive a Toyota. You've seen one Japanese car, you've seen 'em all. All the functions are in pretty much the same place no matter what year, model or manufacturer.

However, the big US rental agencies have contracts with the big US car companies. Who like to play the Microsoft UI game with their controls... Every US rental car I have ever been in has taken me at least 10 minutes to figure out the controls. Headlights? On a stalk, on the dash, pull, twist, never the same twice. Don't even get me started on the climate control or where the release for the bonnet (hood) and gas tank flap would be. I've wasted more time looking for those...

And then, there was the car my daughter bought from the rental company. A Toyota Yaris (great little car), which she and I drove from Los Angeles to Boston. All went well, until we hit New York. That was when we discovered that they don't use antifreeze washer fluid in California. I love these father-daughter bonding trips. No one died; we didn't even come to blows once. :-)

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