back to article Support whizz 'fixes' screeching laptop with a single click... by closing 'malware-y' browser tab

Welcome once more to On Call, our weekly column where Reg readers share their tales of tech support problems solved. This week, meet "Arron", who told us about a user who got in touch to complain about a broken laptop, requesting a replacement. "I love it when they're vague and immediately go for the new-shiny-shiny approach …

  1. TonyJ Silver badge

    "...Suitably admonished, the user went on their way..."

    What...? Without wiping the possibly malware?

    That bad boy would've had a wipe and reimage before it got more than 4 feet away from me.

  2. DJ Smiley

    Do you like making work for yourself?

    I mean..... it was a dodgy site, no evidence in anyway of infection.

  3. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    At TonyJ...

    Yeah... and the computer too! =-D

    I'll get my coat, it's the one with the BOFH archives in the pockets.

  4. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Devil

    "That bad boy would've had a wipe and reimage before it got more than 4 feet away from me."

    Heck, I'd have gone full BOFH and wiped the entire thing right there in front of him, with a commentary along the lines of:

    "No you can't take a backup, whatever's infected it will just get onto your USB stick... when did you first notice the noise? Ok, well you can't restore any backups from then until now, there's a risk that they're infected..."

    That sort of user is just begging to be reduced to tears and having the fear of god put into them at the idea of trying it on again...

  5. Admiral Grace Hopper

    "Heck, I'd have gone full BOFH"

    Punishment maintenance. Sweet.

  6. big_D Silver badge

    Backup? Company policy says no data to be stored locally, everything must be on the servers, so there is no data to lose. /BOFH

  7. Annihilator

    Re: Do you like making work for yourself?

    "I mean..... it was a dodgy site, no evidence in anyway of infection."

    Maybe. But it was a browser redirect, or hijack of some description. Usually where a user has let something through the gates, there's a high chance that something else followed.

    In a corporate environment, nuking from orbit is normally the standard approach - especially with a BOFH character who would also rip the wifi module out and pour epoxy resin into the network port.

  8. macjules Silver badge
    WTF?

    More to the point, you had an IT department yet no anti-virus or anti-malware installed? Interested to know what type of operation it was.

  9. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
    Coat

    A webpage with a sound on it is not normally something I would consider a virus or Malware, just annoying

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. bpfh

    Great thing having backups on a central greppable server with everything backed up to a multi tape loader.

    Mines the one with Dial B for Bastard paperback and a neodymium magnet in the pocket.

  12. doublelayer

    Re: Do you like making work for yourself?

    I'd scan it, just to make sure, but this doesn't warrant a reimage in my book. Especially if the user could have done this on purpose to try to get a new model.

  13. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "A webpage with a sound on it is not normally something I would consider a virus or Malware"

    You've just failed your BOFH examination for missing an obvious opportunity to wipe all the luser's data.

  14. JimboSmith Silver badge

    Data wipe

    I had a PC at my office years ago that was running okay but the the network card had died and the sound card was also a little dodgy after an office move. At the time I wasn't in support at the time and had to hand over my machine to a support person. I said that it was very important that they left the harddrive alone as there was a set of large files that were too big for a CDR. So the machine was taken away and returned that afternoon and the drives had been wiped. I had words with the head of IT support and the staffer who was mere days into his job with the company was given a talking to. He had apparently thought that the machine was running a little slowly and decided wiping was the best fix. We told him that at the very least he should have contacted the user and asked if any files needed to be saved. He apologised and said he'd pay for a forensic data recovery service on the disk if needed. That was good of him. Unfortunately he then told me off for not storing my work on the server which let him down slightly. The look on his face as he had the words "broken network card" and "do not wipe" read out to him from the ticket.

  15. Dave K Silver badge

    If you completely wipe every machine you find where a user has simply managed to open a dodgy web page, you'd be one-busy chap! So long as the user hasn't downloaded the said "fix" from the hijacked/redirected site, the laptop should be no more infected than any other machine.

  16. Giovani Tapini

    At one place I worked, they had speeded this up

    by occasionally deleting user profiles along with all setting, data, documents etc then insist line manager re-requests all your access from scratch. Far quicker than re-imaging a laptop while creating similar feelings of loss and hopelessness in the user (although that included us techies, grrr)

    I never did find out if this was BOFH behaviour or simple incompetence though.

  17. Nick Kew Silver badge

    One busy chap?

    That's good. We need more hands. A new PFY or two (Simon's one has long-since graduated to full BoFH himself). Empire-building, doncherknow?

  18. TonyJ Silver badge

    "...

    If you completely wipe every machine you find where a user has simply managed to open a dodgy web page, you'd be one-busy chap! So long as the user hasn't downloaded the said "fix" from the hijacked/redirected site, the laptop should be no more infected than any other machine...."

    Alas in this day and age of drive-by infection, I'd rather be busy than take the chance.

  19. PickledAardvark

    Re: At one place I worked, they had speeded this up

    Deleting user profiles worked for quite a while -- until drive-by hackers realised that they had to put the payload somewhere else. When Windows 7 arrived, I recall resetting ACLs on a bunch of shared document/photo/video directories accessible to all users. I changed the ACLs before we deployed Windows 7.

  20. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge

    If this is a corporate machine, then the user should not have had the admin rights to install anything, and should not have any data sitting on the (encrypted) machine in any case; furthermore the local antivirus and anti-malware software should also have been active.

    In such a case, I would quarantine the machine for "further tests" and proceed to scan the hell out of the local drive to make certain that nothing actually got onto it, whilst making the user cool their heels waiting for this to run. Kicking about for 20 minutes is generally unpleasant enough to get the message about not visiting dodgy sites over to users without actually harming anything.

  21. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    If you completely wipe every machine you find where a user has simply managed to open a dodgy web page,

    First, let me fix this for you: If you completely wipe every machine you find where a user has successfully managed to open a dodgy web page,

    That is called "perimeter defences lacking"

    Second, depends what are you working on and in what security regime. A wipe may be the right approach in some environments.

  22. ROC

    Well, AV software has been known to miss some baddies (zero-day, etc), and legitimate sites sometimes are compromised, so don't be too quick to blame a user when they may well have been following SOP....

  23. Lord Lucan

    My user reports upon powering-up their laptop that it shrieks: "Set fire to the rain, set fire to the rain..."

    They think it's a Dell.

  24. DuchessofDukeStreet
    Pint

    I know it's early (at least in this time zone) but.... >>>>>

    Dell deserved.

  25. The Nazz Silver badge

    Is this the resulting outcome?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcWQQlRYuCk

  26. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    See icon.

    "They think it's a Dell."

    God dammit, that was a a fresh cup of coffee too!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Further

    Was on a cruise ship, when my laptop fell overboard into some choppy waters. It was a Dell, rolling in the deep...

  28. TomPhan

    I think the first time I heard that pun was on I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue - "Colin Searle has been working with Adele - he says it's better than his old laptop"

  29. Wayneh_nz

    Set fire to the rain?

    That would be a Samsung device, not a Dell. Remember when there was the recall on Samsung washing machines because there was a malfunction in the rinse cycle. Where the machine would catch fire. Only Samsung can set fire to water like that.

  30. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Hell is other people

    We got three calls from the same user complaining her headset was not functioning... three times we told her it would work better when pressing the button "On" :doh:

  31. Nick Kew Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Re: Hell is other people

    But could she hear you on the non-functioning headset?

  32. chivo243 Silver badge

    Re: Hell is other people

    @Potemkine!

    I've been there... My headphones are broken. Make the visit only to find the headphones are plugged into the MIC jack! That was a quickly closed ticket! That was long ago, and the user is still sheepish when I have to assist ;-}

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Hell is other people

    Problem is that now it may not be that simple as having a headset turned off ... I have to do regular meetings via a conf system using my laptop (I work remotely) and in initial meeting with new laptop people complained I kept on dropping off halfway through sentences and had to revert to using phone to call in ... fortunately found solution relatively quickly ... my laptop (HP) has directional microphones and, in default settings, assumes any sound not from directly in front of it is "background chatter" that is to be cancelled - I sit with monitor in front of me and laptop beside that so as far as laptop was concerned I was speaking from a slight angle to it so was background noise to be cancelled which it did very effectively! Simple soultion was to switch to "conference room mode" where it assumes people can talk from any direction!

  34. Scott 53

    Re: Hell is other people

    We regularly had conference calls with one colleague where the sound from his end would fluctuate from 100% to 0% throughout the call. We eventually discovered he kept his laptop right on the edge of his desk and when he leaned forward to emphasise a point, his stomach covered up the microphone on the computer. He uses a headset now.

  35. Alien8n Silver badge

    Re: Hell is other people

    We have a lovely Barco presentation system that has now been made redundant due to the fact that if you try to do a Skype call and route the video through the Barco the sound very rapidly starts lagging behind the video. The solution? Remove the Barco and just plug the laptop directly into the projector system. Now everything is back in sync. Weird thing is it only affects Skype.

  36. macjules Silver badge

    Re: Hell is other people

    I could write a book about IT problems with governments and where nothing beats HM Government junior ministers for sheer, stubborn human stupidity, as in this example:

    "My government-issued laptop keeps making a beeping noise, even though I know for a fact that it is switched off. It is very annoying indeed and will you please send someone asap to fix it at my house?"

    Next day's engineer report:

    "Subject's laptop was checked and found to be in full working order with no errors. However, this can not be said about the subject's smoke alarm which was situated almost directly above the laptop. Recommend that this member of HMG be sent several 9v batteries with instruction on how to fit them"

  37. MJI Silver badge

    Re: Hell is other people

    My car the seat is a bit close to the wheel, I have had surgery so belly SLIGHTLY numb, steering was heavy.

    Fluid OK, leant in turned wheel, fine.

    Took for drive then noticed if I pulled forwards slightly, I was touching the wheel.

  38. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Re: Hell is other people

    "I could write a book about IT problems with governments and where nothing beats HM Government junior ministers for sheer, stubborn human stupidity"

    Yes Minister: The IT Story.

    It should be a good read.

  39. Nick Kew Silver badge

    My most memorable story of fixing not-broken technology comes from when I was about thirteen-ish and had never seen a computer. My granny told me, if I could fix her old radio, I could have it for myself. I changed the batteries, and it worked!

    To be fair, at the time I was pretty handy with electronics, and fixed a few less-trivial things. Come to think of it ... no, you don't want to hear that one.

  40. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

    My flatmates once replaced a burned out bulb with another burned out bulb, then sat in the dark for a week waiting for me to come back from a trip, as they wanted me to call the electrician.

  41. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Facepalm

    I have "repaired" a mouse that would work properly.

    A Bluetooth mouse.

    One with batteries, don't you know

    A few months later, it broke down again. Guess what? They complained it must be broken

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Batteries

    I'm a half generation older than my cousin, but she had no qualms about asking me to fix her vibrator when I was once round at her flat doing some odd jobs (sorry no euphemism there)

    She was also very happy to tell her flatmate how pleased she was to have it working again - I suppose it is just another 'appliance'

    I'm not prudish but I was quite surprised.

    New batteries.

  43. ChrisC

    Well, if it had simply stopped working due to dead batteries again, even though they'd only been changed a few months later (and by "few" I'm assuming a value small enough to be less than a years-worth), then it's not unreasonable to assume *something* is broken... The Logitech wireless mice I use have such an aversion to using power that their batteries easily last a few *years*, so if one of those suddenly started chewing through a fresh set of batteries in just a few months then I'd definitely be wondering what the fault was beyond the batteries simply being flat.

  44. macjules Silver badge

    One up on the Apple mouse then - you can not use it while it is charging as the lightning port is underneath the mouse.

    Not one of Jonny Ive's best designs.

  45. Lilolefrostback

    Not technical, but typical.

    I generally count the offering at church, with another fellow (for accountability). We have a nice little box that contains all the kit for counting, recording and preparing for the bank. Included in that kit are several ball-point pens. I cannot count the number of times that the other fellow has pulled out a pen, found it non-functional, and put it right back in the box. I presume he's expecting a miraculous recovery.

    I usually grab the pen and drop it in the bin.

  46. OzBob

    Re: Batteries

    Please tell me you a least gave it a sniff, just for research purposes of course.

  47. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    Re: Batteries

    Ive said it many times, "The greatest threat to man is an independently wealthy woman with battery operated toys"

    Unless you're the one with the batteries I guess.

    Mine's the one with the hydraulic apparatus in the front pocket.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A few months later, it broke down again. Guess what? They complained it must be broken

    They probably said that -

    "it's never worked properly" or "It's always going wrong"

  49. Richard Gray 1
    IT Angle

    Foodie Friday

    Not really IT as such, but since it's about simply fixing stuf....

    There was an advert on a local group for one of those really expensive food processors, you know the ones you see on all the cooking shows. saying that it only worked on pulse not properly hence {really low price}.

    As She who must be obeyed, washer of socks and cooker of meals wanted one I thought why not..

    I bought it, took it home and looked at it. The on switch had a bit of "gunky food residue" (tm) on it.

    A bit of cleaning spray, a cocktail stick and a good hard 5 minutes of work, one fully functional food processor and one VERY happy She who must be obeyed, washer of socks and cooker of meals.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Foodie Friday

    On a similar "note" heard an interview with Rick Wakeman some time ago relating that when Moog synthesizers came out and were really really expensive he got one off another musician who'd bought one and decided it was faulty as it would not play two notes at the same time ... think Rick said he started to try to explain the difference between "monopohonic" and "polyphopnic" but got nowhere and ended up getting the "broken" Moog for free.

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018