back to article 'Please store the internet on this floppy disk'

Welcome again to another edition of On-Call, which we run daily during the news drought that is the week before Christmas to share the tech support stories that readers sent in earlier in the year. Today: Especially dim users who asked for especially simple fixes. One such story came to us from "Jim", who was once given the …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm not sure what's worse

    Recieving the photos on a mobile phone in the post, or

    Recieving screenshots from the helpdesk that contain both the helpdesk persons monitors, one of which contains the remote connection to the user's monitor(s).

    Said screenshot is in a word document.

    You have to zoom in and in and in until you finally reliase you can't read the error message anyway.

    Now where's that enhance button (spooks style)

    1. Test Man

      Re: I'm not sure what's worse

      "Said screenshot is in a word document."

      That REALLY grinds my gears - people who put images in a Word document. FFS!

      1. John Riddoch

        Re: I'm not sure what's worse

        "screenshot in a word document"

        Older version of MS Paint would default to saving in bitmap format - for a large monitor and 24/32 bit graphics, that would be a large file to attach to an email. Saving in word would compress it so you'd have a much smaller email. It's a poor solution, but for a non-savvy person, it can be quicker & easier.

        Nowadays, paint seems to default to PNG format which is much better, so there shouldn't be any need to revert to Word.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm not sure what's worse

        "That REALLY grinds my gears - people who put images in a Word document. FFS!"

        Whilst working for a large UK electronics retailer, I was amazed to receive - in the same day - an Excel document containing about a dozen paragraphs of text that were to be used on a website (just pasted one per cell, no wrapping or cell resizing even) and then a Powerpoint file with some data and graphs in.

        I was waiting for the trifecta - a Word document containing images that were to be viewed as a slideshow, one per page. Tragically it never happened.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm not sure what's worse

          "That REALLY grinds my gears - people who put images in a Word document. FFS!"

          What's most annoying is people who want to screenshot your work and then put it into a Word document so they can do it themselves later. In principle, fine, but you scope out a few hours to do the job. Then they insist that you use their PC to do it, and they take screenshots. So they fire up Word and take a screenshot of EVERY FUCKING SCREEN. Oh, there's a progress bar - take a screenshot. The progress bar has moved on - take a screenshot. The operation has completed - take a screenshot.

          1. 2Nick3 Bronze badge
            Mushroom

            Re: I'm not sure what's worse

            "So they fire up Word and take a screenshot of EVERY FUCKING SCREEN. Oh, there's a progress bar - take a screenshot. The progress bar has moved on - take a screenshot. The operation has completed - take a screenshot."

            And if they miss getting the screenshot of a progress bar at 25% they want you to go back and do the operation again. Even though copying a <1k file is never going to give you a chance to catch the progress bar...

      3. ThaumaTechnician

        Re: I'm not sure what's worse

        "Said screenshot is in a word document."

        Count yourself lucky, if it had been management, they would have figured out how to post the screenshots in an Excel spreadsheet, one that was formatted so as to make it impossible to print out in one piece..

      4. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

        Re: I'm not sure what's worse

        I get that all the time - prtscr + paste into Word doc.

        Most of the time I just select the image, ctrl+c, open irfanview, ctrl+v and Bob's world+dog's uncle. Zooming in to see the offending message then is easy.

      5. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: I'm not sure what's worse

        GODS YES. Our front line support minons do this ALL THE TIME. Our helpdesk software will accept *any* file for attachment to the tickets, but nope- gotta paste a screen shot of the two-monitor wide image into a portrait oriented word document...

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: I'm not sure what's worse

        Is anybody reading ElReg not tired of explaining why, exactly, so-called "digital zoom" isn't all that useful?

      2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: I'm not sure what's worse

        "enhance button" It's Christmas! Let's enhance.

        https://youtu.be/LhF_56SxrGk

        If it wasn't for that pesky reflection, I woulda gotta away with it...

        You forgot to zoomify

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm not sure what's worse

      The best ones are where you get a screenshot but find pornhub lurking on the taksbar.

      PrtScn can be quite unforgiving to the uninitiated.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: I'm not sure what's worse

          Even today it happens - I do volunteer work (moderating and support) for the forum of a very well known media player app, which produces a text debug log during operation. When things go wrong, we ask for a copy of it via pastebin or suchlike.

          And of course the number of times we actually receive photographs of screens showing it (of course in a similarly small and unreadable font) does sometimes make you despair. And that's not counting the times when they take the photos and then ask how to get them to you...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I'm not sure what's worse

            And of course the number of times we actually receive photographs of screens showing it (of course in a similarly small and unreadable font) does sometimes make you despair. And that's not counting the times when they take the photos and then ask how to get them to you...

            Doesn't even have to be non-technical people doing it. When I was still stuck working at IBM, doing unix/linux support in a group of other support. admin and development people, you would be amazed at just HOW many of these "geniuses" would sent *text* error messages or other text information as screen clippings inside Sametime messages.

            But then again it *was* IBM, so basic intelligence is not at all a given.

      2. Chris King Silver badge

        Re: I'm not sure what's worse

        Or dealing with someone who wants help with e-mail, but forgot the hide the message that came in from a dating site... Thank goodness it wasn't from Grindr !

      3. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: I'm not sure what's worse

        The best ones are where you get a screenshot but find pornhub lurking on the taksbar.

        PrtScn can be quite unforgiving to the uninitiated.

        I know someone who works for a furniture retailer and deals with damage to furniture. They're often sent pictures of coffee table/bookcase/TV stand/DVD storage units that have suffered some minor (and sometimes major) maladies. The number of times these pictures have turned up with 50 Shades of Grey in either print or video form in the picture is impressive. Some have had a few R18 films in the storage units which the owners either didn't care about other people seeing (unlikely) or had forgotten they were there.

        1. ChrisBedford

          Re: I'm not sure what's worse

          "The number of times these pictures have turned up with 50 Shades of Grey in either print or video form in the picture is impressive. Some have had a few R18 films..."

          So what. Fifty shades is mainstream, the movies might be adult rated but are not illegal and anyone who denies having looked at anything in this category is either lying or over 80.

          What about when the glass door or shiny chrome finish clearly shows the picture was taken naked... and in at least one case I have seen, dangling. Eurgh.

    4. Tsurotu

      Re: I'm not sure what's worse

      I've had people screenshot emails then paste the mail into a document then attach the document to a support ticket as an attachment, with a the ticket body saying "see attached".

    5. boltar Silver badge

      Re: I'm not sure what's worse

      "Recieving the photos on a mobile phone in the post, or"

      Actually I'm not sure whats so funny about that. The farmer may have lost the cable, not have any drivers for his PC if he even owned a PC, the phone might not have had an SD card and the photos were in its on board memory, or he may not have had an internet connection or if he did it was dial up only in which case it could well be quicker to post the phone than upload the pictures! And being a farmer he'd be busy 12 hours a day and probably had better things to do than visit an office that could be miles away to deliver it by hand.

      Its easy to take the piss if you don't know the facts.

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: I'm not sure what's worse

        Lotus Office (circa 95) used to ship with a screen recorder thing that was ace for reaching people how to use new software products or for demonstrating a problem to a thick developer of the "I don't make mistakes" school over email.

        It was easy to use and very basic. Click record, do what you wanted. Click stop and save the result. Files could be played back just as simply.

        In short it was thunderously useful.

        When IBM bought Lotus it was the first thing they dropped support for.

        1. Chris King Silver badge

          Re: I'm not sure what's worse

          Microsoft shipped something similar in later versions of Windows - the Problem Steps Recorder.

          PSR.EXE has helped me diagnose lots of problems over the years.

        2. Martin-73 Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: I'm not sure what's worse

          Was this the thing that morphed into smartsuite? I loved that screen recorder gadget (circa 1999) for teaching my non tech savvy friends* on yahoo chat rooms how to do stuff

          *several provisos here. Later experience taught me many of them were not friends, but... more pertinent, 'non tech savvy' people on the internet in 1999 BY DEFINITION knew way too much about how computers worked, even to be there.

          Merry christmas to one and all.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm not sure what's worse

          Lotus Screencam was the dog's bollocks and the files it produced were so small I always used to check to see if they had actually done anything, it is really annoying that there doesn't seem to be anything like it

        4. 2Fat2Bald

          Re: I'm not sure what's worse

          You might l like to open any modern Windows-based PC and run the program "PSR.EXE"

          It's not AS good, but pretty good nonetheless.

    6. jobst

      Re: I'm not sure what's worse

      I know what's worse ... putting the out of office message into a word document and getting that said docx attached to the "I am out of the office" message ....

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm not sure what's worse

      You have to zoom in and in and in until you finally reliase you can't read the error message anyway.

      People who write SW where the errors come up in dialogue boxes which don't allow cut&paste.

      ARGH

      Burning at the stake is too good for these people.

      Sorry MS but you're going to be short of developers!

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm not sure what's worse

      That's nothing - I've seen plenty of people trying to use Windows as an operating system. They always see the funny side of it when I point out how wrong they are!

    9. tinman

      Re: I'm not sure what's worse

      sending a form in WORD format via email for completion and receiving back a pdf of the response which has been completed in WORD, printed out and then the printout is scanned and emailed back

  2. wolfetone Silver badge

    Yeah, I'm sure it was "Andre", not you Mr.Graham Linehan. And I'm sure the user in question wasn't called Jen.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      This apocryphal story has been doing the rounds since long before The IT Crowd, just like the CD tray/coffee cup holder one. Having met users, I don't doubt it was inspired by real incidents.

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Well CD Trays have a hole in the middle. Had a hole in the middle. Then they changed from one large hole to a small hole and a slot. This uses more plastic so must have had a reason . . .

        1. W4YBO

          "...changed from one large hole to a small hole and a slot."

          Now the drive hub doesn't have to move out of the way for the drawer to operate.

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge
            FAIL

            Now the drive hub doesn't have to move out of the way for the drawer to operate.

            It still has to drop when the tray opens. How else is the disc going to clear the spindle?

      2. jake Silver badge

        Not apocryphal.

        Happened all the time as the corporate world shifted from a few folks with proper training using a command line to nearly everybody, most with no training at all, using a GUI.

        So-called "ease of use" is a myth that has set back computing at least two generations. TANSTAAFL.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Not apocryphal.

          "So-called "ease of use" is a myth that has set back computing at least two generations. TANSTAAFL."

          I can't upvote you enough for that comment, eg from the article...

          "and did not know how what horizontal scrollbars are for"

          ...and how many version of Windows have we seen the installer slide-show telling us how "intuitive" or "more intuitive than ever" using Windows is? Intuition is where you have skills or knowledge and can apply them to a new situation. That didn't work with computers, especially GUIs, it was just too different for most people. Still applies today in many cases, I find few people actually know how to use a GUI properly. The worst are people who have never been shown even how to log in without using the mouse to get from the user name box to the password box. And these include people in the early 20's who probably used computers every day of their lives at school.

          1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

            Re: Not apocryphal.

            ...and how many version of Windows have we seen the installer slide-show telling us how "intuitive" or "more intuitive than ever" using Windows is? Intuition is where you have skills or knowledge and can apply them to a new situation. That didn't work with computers, especially GUIs

            I can say from personal experience, having set up a home computer (running MSWin XP at the time) for someone who had never had a home computer before. At most she might have used a green-screen terminal, although I think her working career didn't entail a lot of that either. MSWin absolutely was *not* intuitive for her. Could easily have set her in front of a Mac, Linux box or even a Solaris machine, and it wouldn't have been any more difficult. And she wasn't stupid by any means.

            "Intuitive" is where prior experience can be adapted to your current scenario. Without the appropriate relevant experience, *nothing* is intuitive.

          2. tinman
            Angel

            Re: Not apocryphal.

            "he worst are people who have never been shown even how to log in without using the mouse to get from the user name box to the password box."

            I've had a rep as an IT guru in various NHS settings over the years for knowing esoteric maneuvers such as CTRL-Z and CTRL-V, and no I don't work in ICT

        2. Martin-73 Silver badge

          Re: Not apocryphal.

          TWO generations? I fear you are an optimist.

          I'd posit that mr Turing was way ahead of your average IT guru these days

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Not apocryphal.

            "I fear you are an optimist."

            That's what my wife tells me. So why do I feel pessimistic?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I'm sure many users have been caught out when they started auto-closing.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        At Rich 11, RE: the cd tray.

        I was working as the PFY at a company that shall remain nameless to cover my ass. One day we got a call from our PHB saying his computer had stopped working & he needed a new one. Cue the troubleshooting steps, no fix, & a personal visit from me.

        I get there to discover his desk is now suspiciously clear of everything but the monitor on its stand - no papers, no ledgers, no pens nor pencils, no keyboard nor mouse, *nothing* - and ask where he keeps the KB&M so I can work on his computer. Turns out he had been using the "coffee cup holder", the tray had closed, & spilled his coffee all over his desk, the KB&M, down the back of the desk & wall, & all over his computer's tower.

        I got him a new computer, used a "tower caddy" on wheels to keep it up off his floor, and shared the story with my BOFH Master.

        He doubted my story right up until the point where we opened the old tower & smelled the PHB's infamous favorite sugary cinnomon frappy crappy drink.

        My BOFH Master treated me to a pint as a gesture of appollogy & to welcome me to the next rung on the ladder to my eventual BOFH-ness.

        *Happy sigh*

        Ahhh the memories!

      5. JimboSmith Silver badge

        This apocryphal story has been doing the rounds since long before The IT Crowd, just like the CD tray/coffee cup holder one. Having met users, I don't doubt it was inspired by real incidents.

        Had an incident at a media business where I found myself explaining how to use a piece of equipment. The person concerned was quite senior and had asked me to explain why her CD wasn't playing. She was in a media transfer suite and was insistent that the machine was faulty and her disc was fine. It was a CDR machine in the days when such things were very very expensive and normally the preserve of studios etc. I pressed open on the machine and out came the 'tray' with her disc on. This was a machine where the tray had a platter that held the disc firmly and then the platter was rotated. This platter was a reassuringly weighty thing and designed to minimise any wobble. I said the problem was that the disc was upside down and it needed to be turned over. I was told that despite having been around when computers were the size of cars she wasn't senile. She had a cd player at home you see and knew the label side needed to be up. I ventured that this machine was different and vastly more expensive but she wasn't having any of that. So I said that I'd bet her an extra week of holiday that if I put the disc in "upside down" it would play.

        Now I knew she really wasn't senile because she said I'm not falling for that. Turned it upside down and low and behold it played perfectly. I always wondered if she'd ever used the "cup holder".

      6. Olivier2553

        It did happen to me: a kid, quite young I must say, thought the can holder in a car was the tray of a CD player.

  3. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Brings back bad memories

    "He had resized his Eudora window down to the point where it could not show the full message and did not know how what horizontal scrollbars are for," Andre told us.

    Lots of people in the early 90s had computers plonked on their desks and were never shown or never managed to work out how to use the GUI properly. It was even worse when their company was too tight to provide proper training for particular software packages.

    Customer: "Why do you never put headers and footers in the Pagemaker documents you send me?"

    Me: "Why do you never use the page view and magnification controls?"

    (I was a bit short-tempered that day. I think I apologised later.)

    1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: Brings back bad memories

      "computers plonked on their desks and were never shown or never managed to work out how to use the GUI"

      Exactly this, I worked for a Uni project deploying Microsoft Exchange back in the 90s. For whatever reason they'd stuck with VAX mail, so folks would log into their PC, then telnet onto a VAX, and read that lovely text based mail. I'd come from another Uni where we had a Unix based mail host, and served mail out using POP3 and IMAP and users chose their client, Pine for text terminal users (but that at least was menu driven) Eudora on PCs, or whatever X-Windows mail client they liked. So going back to VAX mail,... eeek.

      So when we transitioned to MS Exchange (v4, when the emails were in .rtf format), we'd install it for the punter, and show them the features, rather than let them work it out for themselves.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Brings back bad memories

        I'd have prepared a nice printout for the user , with big friendly letters on the cover saying "Dont Panic!".

        and then let them work it out for themselves.

        Seriously though , I've done that before a few times ( minus the hgttg) For simpler tasks than a whole new email client though, like mapping a drive , or sharing your calandar , or adding a mailbox to outlook.

        After I've explained something simple , or worse done it for them , about 100x it's too much.

        A nice friendly word doc / web page / printout (preferably colour) with idiot proof instructions , screenshots and big red arrows is in order.

        tip - its 100x easier to follow if you put text relating to a picture by the side of it (and shrink the pic to achieve that) . Most guide writers tend to put screenshots that are far too big and too frequent with a line of explanation above or below , and you immediately lose track of wether the text refers to the pic above or below, as well as where you're up to becasue the screen sized scrrenshots push the prev and next step off the screen.

        1. Richard Gray 1

          Re: Brings back bad memories

          I've tried things like that in the past.

          The number of times people have removed the paper explaining the new logon/ email / application procedure with "READ ME" in large letters from the screen \ keyboard before calling in saying the new system is broken and what was wrong with the old way ...

          1. 0laf Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: Brings back bad memories

            That's because they don't want the problem fixed or to learn how to do it what they want is the new shiny taken away and what they know put back.

            It's a human problem, I run into it most days. Employees that cause drama and problems left right and centre about a thousand issues and what they really mean is "put back what I had" but they can't say that..

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