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 …

  1. wolfetone Silver badge

    "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.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

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

      1. LDS Silver badge

        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.

        1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

          @LDS

          Maybe they need the instructions printing on BOTH SIDES

        2. Chris King Silver badge

          "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 ?!

        3. ABehrens

          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?

      2. Stryker007

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

        1. eJ2095

          It should be the pop up edition

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Coat

            poop up surely?

        2. dajames Silver badge

          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!

      3. Stratman

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

        Media Studies Degree. Please take one?

        1. Hubert Thrunge Jr.

          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?

      4. Captain DaFt

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

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

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "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".

      1. frank ly Silver badge

        re. shampoo bottle

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

        1. tfewster Silver badge

          @frank ly Re: re. shampoo bottle

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

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      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.

      1. Nat C.

        "(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.

      2. Maryland, USA

        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.

    4. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      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.

      ...

    5. cream wobbly

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

      1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        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!

      2. Jonathan Richards 1
        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.

  2. RIBrsiq
    Trollface

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

    1. PNGuinn
      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?

  3. Terry 6 Silver badge

    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.

    1. AndyS

      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.

      1. JimC Silver badge

        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...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: miscommunication/dingbat

          "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,"

          When I worked for Merck as a student, in the days when pill bottles had to be hand filled (yes, that long ago) careful psychological tests identified the women who could cope with the repetitive work. Most of them had IQs below 100, well below in some cases. The company made very sure that every day they went home feeling they had achieved a very important task that was essential to the success of the company and the well being of the customers. Merck management was simply brilliant. Unfortunately, years later, I made the mistake of going into industry thinking all large companies were like that.

        2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          Re: miscommunication/dingbat

          "The 'talent' to sit down all day doing a mind numbingly boring repetitive task may not be well regarded"

          You mean working at an IT hell desk?

      2. Tabor

        Re: Can you hold down the power button

        @AndyS : sacking her for being a "dingbat" ? I have met many people that are great at what they do but go in idiot mode if any buttons are involved.

        And apart from that, she thanked him for his efforts. Being on the call, I might have cursed, but after a polite "thanks for helping me out" all that remains is a story for the colleagues. No grudge to be held (unless it happens frequently). I've had far worse calls than that when I was in the trencges.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      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.

      1. gcla72
        Pint

        Re: Can you hold down the power button

        Which arrow do I click to upvote this comment?

      2. Captain DaFt

        Re: Can you hold down the power button

        "That's if we can find the light switch."

        It's right here, somewhere in the Home lighting Control App's menu on my Pixel... >scroll< ... >scroll< ... >scroll< ... >scroll<...>scroll< ... Ah! Here it is, "My Office Light" >tap<

        1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          Re: Can you hold down the power button

          "It's right here, somewhere in the Home lighting Control App's menu on my Pixel... >scroll< ... >scroll< ... >scroll< ... >scroll<...>scroll< ... Ah! Here it is, "My Office Light" >tap<"

          But.. Why doesn't anything happen? WTF, network connectivity off!?

          But wifi seems ok.. Should i reboot the "phone" (small tablet computer with also a minor phone function)?

          OMG!!! Battery went out! And I'm in the dark. Usually I just use the phone's LED flash..

          I'm shaking now due to adrenaline kicking in.

          This is the worst nightmare ever.

          Dial 112.. Oh no..

          (That last one is quite realistic, as I often have rebooted my router only to proceed to try to do some web surfing in the meantime...)

      3. TomG

        Re: Can you hold down the power button

        If this is your attitude towards customers you might as well give up, turn off the lights and go home.

    3. Nick Gisburne
      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.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        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.

        1. israel_hands

          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.

          1. Wingtech

            Re: Can you hold down the power button

            Reading some of these comments I wonder how many are forgetting that on many PCs there really is a 'Power ' switch around the back on the Power supply. Some users might think of that as the 'Power' button and the on-off switch as being the one on the front or top of the chassis.

            I tend to agree that it could be considered to be jargon. I also think that the original hell-desk operator in the story made an unwarranted assumption about the comprhension of term by the user - not quite the same as not understanding jargon.

            Have a nice weekend

            1. Terry 6 Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Can you hold down the power button

              Fair comment.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Can you hold down the power button

            "Just accept it, "Power button" is not jargon,"

            If you work in tech support involving the general public, semantics won't get you anywhere - nor will an underlying hatred of non-techie callers (well, not if you let it show, anyways). If someone understands "on/off switch" better than "power button", then you can be right with knobs on, but they still won't understand the wrong phrase if you keep on using it. If even "on/off" switch fails - and there were many for whom pulling the power cord out of the wall was their preferred power up/power down process - you have to backtrack and find an alternative path.

            The way I managed to keep myself from going mad on tech support was to find ways of getting people to understand, first by recognising their limitations (which were often extreme to a frightening degree), then finding a common language - however basic - that made the call progress and come to a conclusion.

            That said, it still depresses me to this day that some (actually, many) people's existence seems confined to wake, eat, procreate, sleep - with absolutely nothing in between. Such is the lack of thinking/understanding which seems to take place in their brains.

          3. Pedigree-Pete

            Re: Can you hold down the power button

            My Dad is the only computer user in his house. When not required it's off. When internet not required even the router is off. I call that pretty secure. (Until he switches it all back on again of course). PP

        2. Alumoi

          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.

        3. hplasm Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Can you hold down the power button

          "or in this case a modern computer, which normally gets put to sleep, not turned off."

          You kill your computer every night?

          1. W4YBO

            Re: Can you hold down the power button

            "You kill your computer every night?"

            No, but I did just take the last one upstate, to a farm that he can run free on.

            1. Pedigree-Pete
              Pint

              RE: Upstate to a farm he can run free on...

              I just give mine a jolly good talking, tell him to straighten up and fly right and he agrees to try harder. We don't just talk to plants on the right side of the pond you know. :) PP

        4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          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."

          Like the woman I was following down the motorway a few weeks back. No lights on. In the dark.

          Eventually, after many people, including me, had flashed lights at her, she puller over into a lay-by. I parked up in front an tried to walk slowly and non-threatengly towards her (a woman alone, in the dark, gatta be careful these days), she tells me it's a loaner and she can't find the switch. Eventually we found it and switched the headlights on. Her car has automatic lights and in just a few years we now have people prepared to drive in the dark with no lights because they don't know where to find or how to switch on the lights any more.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Can you hold down the power button

            Her car has automatic lights and in just a few years we now have people prepared to drive in the dark with no lights because they don't know where to find or how to switch on the lights any more.

            Not finding the lights is no excuse. When I was taught, and even today, if you can't turn your lights on (whether due to not being able to find a switch in a very obvious place - which is different to every one else's idea of "obvious" unless you went to some sort of "arts school" or due to electrical failure) then if it is safe to do so stop where you are, otherwise hazards on (or even just an indicator - at least your car is then visible!) and drive carefully to where you can safely stop.

            She put you and others at risk. Her license should be revoked for a while.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Can you hold down the power button

            "Her car has automatic lights and in just a few years we now have people prepared to drive in the dark with no lights because they don't know where to find or how to switch on the lights any more."

            Easily done. A few days ago I took SWMBO's car out - it's the one with 4WD & snow was forecast. Realised it's getting dim enough for the lights to have come on and they.. oh, they're not automatic. Never mind, the light switch is in more or less the same place as on mine...nope, that was her previous car. Then remembered it was on a steering column stalk.

      2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        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.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge
          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.

          1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
            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...

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              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.

            2. Marcelo Rodrigues

              Re: Can you hold down the power button

              "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..."

              You'd be surprised. The number of people I talked to that don't understand the difference between "reboot the machine" and "reset the machine"...

              Seriously. You would say "now to complete the upgrade reboot the machine", just to find out the user went on and pressed the reset button...

              EDIT:

              Something may be lost in translation here. I'm brazilian, so portuguese speaking. We say "reiniciar", what would be something like "restart". The action of "reset" the machine (to press the reset button) is "resetar". Yes, it is an anglicism - a bastardized english word.

              1. 's water music Silver badge

                Re: Can you hold down the power button

                You'd be surprised. The number of people I talked to that don't understand the difference between "reboot the machine" and "reset the machine"...

                I wouldn't. Add Log Off (application, OS...) into the list of conflated concepts too and that is before you even start talking about VDIs, SBCs, published apps, virtualised apps, clusters, load balancing...

              2. Spanners Silver badge

                Re: Can you hold down the power button

                The following phrases and their synonyms are regarded as interchangeable

                Log off

                Shut down

                Restart

                Unplug

                Dismantle

                1. Sidonia

                  Re: Can you hold down the power button

                  Shirley not dismantle, mantling a PC in the morning would be a pain!

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              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"

              Easy answer, Via the power switch at the wall etc.

              Don't laugh, some year ago, I supported many users who did this ........ until they lost data due to not logging out or closing their documents etc. We tried to teach them that it was error prone for the obvious reasons.

              People still did it, even after being warned.

              The 'Magical Black Box' mentality still persists apparently.

              In the end we had the sessions auto-logout, All the apps autosaved every 20 mins and on restart the apps would restore from the last saved version of docs etc.

              Not perfect but best we could do without gettng the apps re-written to be resilient to someone 'pulling the plug'. :)

              The developers did not anticipate how 'Real' users would use their apps and assumed that some training would fix any problems. Some people can be very 'resistant' to training. :)

          2. phuzz Silver badge
            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 :)

            1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
              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. :-)

              1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

                Re: Can you hold down the power button

                Antron, actually, it sounds as if it was a great trip. And something you both will have in your memory banks forever, as a small treasure.

                I speak as someone who lost her dad this year.

              2. whileI'mhere

                Re: Can you hold down the power button

                Many years ago, before such things were standardised (US motor manufacturers apart) a friend of the family was driving my Dad around in her new car. She kept indiciating right and turning left and vice versa. After one close shave too many my Dad finally broke: "What do you think you are doing, you keep (etc)"

                Her reply: "What do you mean? It's up for left and down for right"

                (Readers can work out the instrument design differences between her old car and the new one for themselves.)

                1. PNGuinn
                  Mushroom

                  Re: Indicators

                  "Her reply: "What do you mean? It's up for left and down for right""

                  I feel your pain. For the last 15 years or more I've had cars with the indicator stalk on the wrong side. I STILL occasionally flip the wiper stalk instead of the indicators.

                  When you've learned to drive and spent most of your motoring career driving with the b*oody thing where it should be ...

                  And don't get me onto the multitude of ways "designers" can screw up the functions of the wiper stalk ...

                  Where's that crusty old fart icon?

                2. Pedigree-Pete
                  FAIL

                  RE:Indicators.

                  Puts me in mind of the guy pulling out of the services in front of me by the A1M.

                  Audi A6 pulling caravan.

                  Audi indicates left, caravan indicates right. Made sure I got in front of him . PP

              3. ChrisBedford

                Re: Can you hold down the power button

                US car companies. Who like to play the Microsoft UI game with their controls...

                Mercedes, anyone? Although I suppose that's a US-owned company now so they caught the same fever. Where's the parking brake? Over there? Oh, I see. And to release it? Somewhere else? OK. Where the hell do I select the gears? Oh, on a stalk. Yeah, makes perfect sense, not. The last time I was involved in a MB rental I had to go back inside and find someone who could come out an explain the controls. And even he - a professional driver with Avis - couldn't explain everything correctly.

          3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            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.

          4. Alien Doctor 1.1

            Re: Can you hold down the power button

            I once worked in the actuarial support dept. of a pensions/investment company in Bristol. Employed to provide detailed resonses to clients about their investments and to code stand-alone fortran progs to model new products I eventually became the departments own IT support - first line support, netware server management, daily DAT back-ups etc (the company had a major IT dept. using a mix of Burroughs, Sperry and Unisys mainframes with pc's on user desks)

            The incompetence of degree and doctorate actuaries and accountants when it came to IT was incredible; I had to demonstrate how to use a mouse to one guy and finally moved into full-time support functionality when I spent 90% of my time helping my poor dumb colleagues and 10% trying to show clients why their investments were/were not performing as sold.

          5. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken
            Pint

            Re: Can you hold down the power button

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

            This. Only I can't use the past tense, it still depresses me.

            Martin, think of yourself as having just been bought a large drink.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          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.

          1. Aus Tech

            Re: Ben Tasker Can you hold down the power button

            Speak for yourself AC. Having had an old Nissan Bluebird back in the early 90's with fuel problems, I know all about replacing the main jet caused by a filter that was clogged so badly up near the tank that the second filter in the engine compartment was getting wrecked with rubbish making its way to the carby and clogging the jet. After the authorized service and repair agents couldn't fix the problem (twice), and it happened again, and they said that the fuel tank would have to be replaced if it happened again. I barely got out of their yard when it happened again, so I idled the car home, about 3km, and started working on it myself. After I drained all the petrol out of the tank, I then removed the floor of the boot, and found the fuel line with another filter that was full of dirt. Pulled it out, and the other filter, and repaired the carby installed 2 new filters, refilled the tank, and restarted the car after allowing the electric fuel pump to fill the system properly, and all was well. I never went back to the authorized place again.

        3. IT Poser

          Re: Can you hold down the power button

          As an American I feel confident in saying that no one I've ever met locally would know what the jets are either. I've always used (windshield)washer fluid but screenwash is close enough I know what you mean.

        4. noominy.noom

          Re: Can you hold down the power button

          @Ben Tasker

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

          I'm American, and I worked as a mechanic for three decades. I've never heard the phrase 'top up the jets' and have never read it. I'd hazard a guess the OP didn't have a clue what they were talking about.

        5. bob, mon!

          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.

          As an American (pity me), I've never heard of "top-up the jets", and I refer to "washer fluid" when I think of the windshield washer. In fact, "top up" sounds like a British-ism to me.

        6. Fungus Bob Silver badge

          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."

          I'm an American and I, too, have no idea what 'top up the jets' means. Perhaps he's Canadian...

        7. TomG

          Re: Can you hold down the power button

          I am an American and I don't know what "top-up the jets" means. I am very familiar with automotive terms (American). Being American, I am guessing that when you say screenwash you are talking about the windshield washers. OOPS, I guess I should have said wind screen.

      3. qwertyuiop
        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?

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          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]

        2. Trilkhai
          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?)

          1. qwertyuiop

            Re: Can you hold down the power button

            It's an HP EliteBook 820 - about three (?) years old. Is that old enough?

            (Chosen by my employer, not me.)

          2. Rogue Jedi

            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?

            I have seldom seen a keyboard where the return key is not L (well really more like _l ) shaped, as far as I have seen only Apple equipment does not have the L shaped return as standard

            The enter key is on the number pad of full sized keyboards

            That is just the standard UK keyboard layout, I know the us layout is different e.g. @, and " have their position swapped, several other characters are in the wrong place or even missing and as I understand it the return key is only about half the size it should be

        3. hplasm Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: Can you hold down the power button

          "...I can't see a key with "Enter" written on it."

          You don't have a numeric pad?

          1. qwertyuiop

            Re: Can you hold down the power button

            No. It's an HP EliteBook 820. My employer's choice, not mine.

          2. Pedigree-Pete
            Holmes

            Numeric Keypad

            I have a numeric keypad and a full QWERTY UK keyboard. Both Enter keys are spelt out in plain English. Conversely, I'd like to see most "users" find the "Windows" key. PP

        4. Sir Sham Cad

          Re: big key with 'Enter' printed on it

          If your keyboard has a number pad it's the long button at the bottom right, helpfully with the word "Enter" printed on it.

          I don't think anybody in history has ever actually used it rather than the big reverse-L button that's closer to the typing hand.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: big key with 'Enter' printed on it

            My God! It just goes to show, I never really look at my keyboard. There really is another Enter button on the right of the numeric pad. I've only been using this lappy every day for four years.

            1. Pedigree-Pete
              Boffin

              Re: big key with 'Enter' printed on it

              I always use the numeric enter key when entering numbers. Oh Deity! I'm a closet accountant. Sobs. PP

        5. DJ Smiley

          Re: Can you hold down the power button

          No, That's the return key, or 'Page return key' if we're being pedantic.

          The enter key is 'normally' found on a numpad. My Dell provided input device clearly has this.

          1. tfewster Silver badge
            Headmaster

            @DJ Smiley Re: Can you hold down the power button

            "Carriage Return/Line Feed" if we're being REALLY pedantic.

            (I feel mean now for not just saying "CR" and allowing someone to correct me in turn ;-)

            1. tfewster Silver badge
              Headmaster

              Re: @DJ Smiley Can you hold down the power button

              If no-one else is going to do it, I'll out-bore/out-pedant myself:

              CR/LF and Enter started with very different functionality; In mainframe days, you filled in a form on your smart screen, using CR/LF to navigate, then pressed Enter (or Send) to send the entire form to the mainframe for processing.

              As minicomputers arrived where each keypress was transmitted and echoed back, most screens became "dumb". (Apart from hybrids that could be used attached to either type of computer [The fun we had with the "Local Echo" setting!]). The difference between CR/LF and Enter disappeared*.

              Then came the Web form, where your entire PC became just a terminal for that app. The Enter key could have made a resurgence then as "Submit" (But thank $DEITY it didn't - Think of the confusion!)

              * Some steps have been omitted for simplification. YMMV. Caveat Emptor

              1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

                Re: CR/LF and Enter

                Bah, you can keep your newfangled CR/LF. Decent keyboards have separate LF and CR keys. Or, even better, a sturdy lever for CR.

                /lawn.jpg/

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Can you hold down the power button

            My laptop's return key has both a carriage return arrow printed on it, and the letters Enter printed on it.

            Of course, carriage return is an old typewriter terminology from when a physical paper carrier would move to the left until the end of the line had been typed, and the operator pressed the key to move the carrier back to the rightmost (margin stopped) position, as well as do a line feed (hence CRLF).

            (And before that, a physical lever was used to return the carrier and retension a spring.)

            Of course, most computers don't have carriages (or carriers).

        6. 's water music Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Can you hold down the power button

          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?

          Hmmn, I use the key in the numeric keypad of my keyboard that is adorned with the legend 'enter'. I always assumed that the ↲ key was distinctively shaped and cryptically labeled because it did something like initiate the building self-destruct or launch all of the missiles so I have tended to avoid it. You've take a weight off my mind and helped my RSI, which is nice on a Friday, so thanks.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Can you hold down the power button

            A numeric keypad ? How quaint.

        7. Grumble
          Trollface

          Re: Can you hold down the power button

          Hmmm... perhaps he meant the big key on the numerical part of the keyboard. The one that has "Enter" printed on it like my Dell keyboard?

        8. Nick Gisburne
          Pint

          Re: Can you hold down the power button

          "I'm looking at my keyboard and I can't see a key with "Enter" written on it."

          Mine does say Enter, but I've had keyboards with the bent arrow there too, so I take your point. The real issue is that an IT manager should know what the Enter key does and where it is, even if there was nothing on it at all.

          Thinking back, I may even have called it 'Return', but then I learned to type on typewriter, which had an actual carriage return. The whole thing happened in the 1990s, when I was doing tech support in a cold corridor over a 300 baud modem. Tell that to kids these days and they won't believe you :o)

        9. dc_m

          Re: Can you hold down the power button

          There's probably one on your numeric keypad!

        10. Andus McCoatover
          Windows

          Re: Can you hold down the power button

          My keyboard has a key that says "Enter", but for some strange reason, it also has Æ and Ø (where the ö and ä should be). Still, I nicked it from Norway, so can't grumble...

        11. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Can you hold down the power button

          qwertyuip,

          Or you could use the key with 'Enter' written on it, on the numeric keypad. :)

          I know 'Some' of the readers will have numeric keypads on their keyboards.

          Proving the point that even the 'right answer' can be wrong sometimes. :) :)

          When dealing with users you need to forget everything you 'know' and all 'jargon' you use and try to look at the world through the eyes of a complete 'Noob'.

          Remember they are not stupid just lacking the same experience as you.

          Imagine if a Partner in a Legal Practice started talking to you in 'their' jargon and expected you to understand it all. [Real example, you need to be 'able' to ask questions, which many users do not because they think they will be thought stupid.]

          The users who asked questions, and knew they would not get ridiculed as a consequence, did learn and could be a useful ally to teach others.

      4. Terry 6 Silver badge

        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

        1. Nick Gisburne

          Re: Can you hold down the power button

          When I looked it up it gave me something about jets in a carburetor, which is why I assumed it was a job for the garage mechanic. If you'd said water jets we'd have been on the same page immediately. The combined effect is that it's always necessary to communicate properly, so we're all conceivably right and wrong at the same time I suppose. But it's still good to vent about idiot end users :o)

        2. Black Betty
          Joke

          Re: Can you hold down the power button

          We call them "tomcats" in our neck of the woods. Shouldn't be too hard to figure out why.

      5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        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.

      6. Fatman Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Can you hold down the power button

        <quote>Some people are just morons who shouldn't have passed the interview for the job in the first place.</quote>

        NO, just skip the interview, and directly promote them to manglement.

      7. herman Silver badge

        Re: Can you hold down the power button

        I wish I could send you a picture of what the Enter key on my Mac looks like. At the top is some Arabic jargon, under that is a hooked arrow pointing to the left, then a hooked arrow pointing to the right and at the bottom is an arrow pointing up. I have no idea what any of that means. I bought the bladdy thing in Dubai...

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Can you hold down the power button

          I bought the bladdy thing in Dubai..."

          Maybe it's a multi-lingual keyboard and the tree arrows indicate CR/LF for left/right, right/left and down/up directional languages?

    4. Anonymous Coward/2.0
      Coat

      Re: Can you hold down the power button

      Power button?

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Can you hold down the power button

        Do you mean the "Electron Flow initialiser" button?

        1. PNGuinn
          Coffee/keyboard

          Re: Do you mean the "Electron Flow initialiser" button?

          Sorry to be pedantic, but that's the power switch on the wall.

          On a modern 'pooter the power supply is still live and sipping power.

          What you mean is the "Electron Flow Accelerator"

          No wonder your lusers are confused.

          1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

            Re: Do you mean the "Electron Flow initialiser" button?

            "What you mean is the "Electron Flow Accelerator"

            Sorry, but that's not correct either.

            It's the "Electron Flow Additional Flow Gate Control".

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Do you mean the "Electron Flow initialiser" button?

              My bad - the wall mounted electron flow initialiser is known as the *Primary* Electron Flow Initialiser.

              The one on the piece of equipment is the *SECONDARY* multichannel uni-directional low voltage Electron flow initaliser.

              Mulitchannel- 3.3V, 5V 12V DC etc

              Electron Flow Accelerator??? What planet are you from, sir?

              (Tongue in cheek, no offence intended)

    5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      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.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        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.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: Can you hold down the power button

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

          Yes they do. And the particular user that got me cross enough to create that analogy twenty-odd years ago had (as mentioned) recently returned from a three day course in "what a spreadsheet is and how to use it". As for checking printer margins and the like, we realised that office staff who were now expected to type up their own letters and reports would probably have trouble, but we actually went as far as sitting with many of them and talking them through procedures. We even wrote short "how to" guides, and yet I still got calls along the lines of "the printer isn't working" when in actual fact they'd just sent four copies to the colour inkjet a couple of feet away from the monochrome laser printer they were fastidiously checking.

          What (sort of) amused me at the time was that I was never offered any IT training. I was there to fix physical things - it was a radio station so I was employed to know which end of an XLR is which, how to wield a soldering iron and how to unblock the urinals, yet I was still expected to be able to explain to people who had been employed to do a specific job, how to do their job!

          M.

      2. PNGuinn
        Trollface

        Re: Can you hold down the power button

        "terms such as "clutch", "accelerator" and "gear"" ...

        Good way to confuse the average 'Merkin then.

        I gather they don't have proper cars with 3 pedals and a pudding stirrer much over there.

        Backward lot.

        Never assume anything.

        Oh wait ...

        1. Bluto Nash

          Re: Can you hold down the power button

          3 pedal cars - They're getting scarcer nowadays over here. Best theft protection you can get...

          I had to borrow my in-law's truck to teach my kids how to drive, as it was the only readily available vehicle with a manual transmission. All of my kids learned how to drive on that old thing. My eldest won't have anything BUT a manual, the other two are kind of 'meh' about it but they're not car people.

          And yes, I got what "topping up the jets" was after a bit of thought. "Topping up" I knew as a Britishism for "filling some sort of fluid to normal levels" and the only user maintainable fluid I was aware of on a car that had any sort of "jets" would have been the windshield/windscreen washers. Not aware of any brake jets, transmission jets, oil jets or any others that would apply.

    6. localzuk

      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.

    7. hplasm Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Can you hold down the power button

      "YOU DO NOT USE JARGON TERMS UNLESS YOU KNOW THE USER."

      Therefore, don't use jargon terms like 'user' ; use a term everyone can understand. 'Fuckwit.'

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: @hplasm re jargon

          "You owe me a new keyboard, monitor, & soda."

          Don't drink soda whilst reading el Reg. Try this instead.

    8. Stuart Castle

      Re: Can you hold down the power button

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

      I supposed the phrase "Power button" is jargon, but most electrical devices have some way of turning the power on or off, be it a button, sensor or switch. I really would have thought that any user would know what a power button is.

      Having said that, if she was panicking (and she may well have been if, say, she had a deadline and just saw the computer not working), she may well have "forgotten" what a power button is. I put forgotten in quotes as it's entirely possible she was not thinking straight. I've been involved in tech support, and I've dealt with intelligent people (up to Professor level) that have been panicking so much that they've forgotten even the most basic details. Usually, calming them down helps them to think more clearly.

      1. Barry Rueger Silver badge

        Re: Can you hold down the power button

        I supposed the phrase "Power button" is jargon, but most electrical devices have some way of turning the power on or off, be it a button, sensor or switch.

        Thinking about this, literally the only power button in regular use in our house is on the TV remote.

        Aside from light switches, everything else is always on (like printers or the router) or is initiated by some functional choice or setting (toaster, stove, kettle) but doesn't have an actual "power" button.

        Actually powering down an appliance or other household unit either involves pulling the plug from the wall or slapping around on the backside looking a tiny, obscure button.

        Unless there's NO button, and you unplug the power adaptor from the device.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Can you hold down the power button

          "Thinking about this, literally the only power button in regular use in our house is on the TV remote."

          So how do you turn the TV on again from the remote?

          I'm pretty sure the TV is not actually 100% powered off.

          Your kettle and toaster would most likely have a real physical power switch, unless it's an (horrible thought) IoT device.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Grade%
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: Can you hold down the power button

        I think for some users they live in holy terror of pressing the wrong thing and destroying not only the day's labour but wiping all the computers on the lan. So, when it comes time to be aided, they curl up in fear and need the soothing voice of knowledge to gently guide them and let them know that no; pressing that button with letters 'e', 's', 'c' won't launch Odin's javelins to impale them where they sit.

        Or not.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can you hold down the power button

      I feel this guy's pain, having been in this exact situation. Had to phone a remote depot once to get a batch PC rebooted which we pulled data from remotely, and found that the only person still in the office was the depot secretary.

      After a short conversation and some pleasantries, I had to describe my request - and through a bit of probing quickly discovered that I had to phrase what I wanted her to do in terms of typewriters since she hadn't a clue about computers. Did the trick and got her to toggle the power switch once she'd managed to locate it.

    10. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Can you hold down the power button

      @Terry 6 - "drivers have no idea how to top-up the jets" either you have some seriously overpowered cars where you are, or you're looking for the word "pilots".

      Hoist by your own petard - you did say not to use jargon terms.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Can you hold down the power button

        Yup, and already did a mia culpa, complete with explanation and defence.

    11. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Can you hold down the power button

      "There's an on and off button on the box....etc."

      That sounds confusing. I know where the on button is, but where is the off button?

    12. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can you hold down the power button

      "how many drivers have no idea how to top-up the jets, check the tyres etc."

      A former IT colleague of mine was once asked by a young lady in the "user" category whether she should do something about the fact that the red "oil can" symbol was showing on her car (well, cars are kind of technical so the IT guys are naturally the first port of call). Of course, he said she should either add oil or go (cautiously) to her preferred garage straight after work. I think he may even have offered to go and buy some oil and put it in for her during lunch-break. She said no, it was fine, she'd go to the garage after work.

      Several months later, she told him that she'd just had the car serviced and they'd "dealt with the problem and the red light had gone out". She was really excited - "it's really quiet now and it feels like a new car"!

      Cue facepalms in the IT office...

    13. Whit.I.Are

      Re: Can you hold down the power button

      >check the tyres

      There are 4, so I'm good to go...

    14. Patrician

      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."

      I'm sorry but how can anyone regard the term "power button" as "jargon"?

  4. Baldy50

    Always kill switch it?

    The article doesn't say if it's a Linux or Windows box, if the former just pull the plug!

    If it's a Windows box the next person on the help desk is in for a shit time getting her past the 'Windows didn't shut down properly' etc and if it's hung what's wrong with trying to see if the task manager would run to shut shit down and see if it responds first?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Always kill switch it?

      You haven't used Windows for a while, have you? It's far more resilient to power interruptions now - automates the repair processes etc when needed (OK, not every time, but on par with Linux)

      1. Extra spicey vindaloo

        Re: Always kill switch it?

        SFC /SCANNOW fixed most things in windows these days, but of course you still need them to open an admin prompt. I'm always suprised how many people don't know about WIN+X or typing CMD into the address bar of a folder.

        1. Pedigree-Pete

          Win+x

          I've been using Windows since GEM lost the game and I didn't know that. (of course I can use the CMD "DOS" box). Thanks.

      2. ChrisBedford

        Re: Always kill switch it?

        You haven't used Windows for a while, have you? It's far more resilient to power interruptions now

        Exactly, and if the user can't find the 'Power' button, how in the came of anything you hold dear is anyone going to talk her through opening Task Manager, let alone finding the rogue application and shutting it down?

        Puh-lease.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Always kill switch it?

      The reason for not using task manager may be that it is disabled for user accounts, it is quite common to do this when locking down computers so that the users have few chances of breaking it or infecting it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Always kill switch it?

      In response....it was Windows XP recently upgraded from NT4 and no she didn't get the 'Windows didn't shut down properly' spiel. And as for working out what had caused the hang-up, by the time I got her back on she didn't want to carry on with the call and frankly I couldn't have given a $%&@. All I wanted at that point was a large JD on ice and some ibroprofen

  5. samuri

    Middle of the night, our operations centre call me out. They warn me they have a very angry director on the phone. I get put through, he's clearly in a very busy environment, very noisy.He is SHOUTING down the phone at me and is apoplectic.,

    He's calling from a borrowed phone and is in Singapore airport. His Blackberry is 'not working;' and I'd better fix it by the time he calls me back in ten minutes other wise I'm going to get sacked. SLAM!

    So it takes me ten minutes to login, I get onto the BES server, his phone hasn't been seen for a few days, it's not contactable now. There's nothing I can do remotely. I wait for the sacking phone call. Operations centre call me back, put him through, I try to ask him what is wrong with the phone but he's not interested in that nonsense, he demands to have my name and hangs up.

    Few days later me and my boss get summoned to his office, he is still livid and tells us he missed out on a huge deal because he couldn't process the emails in time (he has a laptop and remote access so could have), it's all my fault and what is my boss going to do about it? My boss asks if he can see the phone. It won't turn on.

    "Have you charged it?", he asks. Quite a long silence....

    "How often would I need to do that?"

    No apology though.

    1. Pedigree-Pete
      Pint

      Apoplectic.

      Typical. You have my sympathies and an up vote for "apoplectic". PP

  6. John Lilburne

    Hmmm!

    A few years, systems had setup a new windows workstation for me. It had been running 24/7 for about 10 months. Xmas came and I'd taken some extra days so someone shut it down on the 24th. On 2nd January I came in and it took me several minutes scroffling about under the desk to locate the damn power switch, if fact it was a colleague that pointed out that the button next to the DVD drive was the power button.

    Then there was the time I was talking to some tech support about a bit of kit that need jumpers reconfigured. I'd taken the thing down stairs so that I could fiddle with it whilst on the phone. Eventually he says OK plug in now and see if it starts up. So I pulled the plug that was in the socket out and plug the bit of kit in. Naturally the plug I'd pulled out was powering the phone. Fortunately the thing powered up OK.

    1. H in The Hague

      Re: Hmmm!

      "... it took me several minutes scroffling about under the desk to locate the damn power switch."

      Got a new PC a few years ago. Took me ages to figure out that it doesn't have a visible power button, you just press anywhere on the hinged front panel.

      1. AndyS

        Re: Hmmm!

        This reminds me of the ritual I like to call the "How the hell do I open the petrol cap on this hire car?" forecourt dance.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm!

        "Took me ages to figure out that it doesn't have a visible power button, you just press anywhere on the hinged front panel."

        And did accidentally pressing anywhere on the front panel switch it off again? It sounds like one to avoid.

    2. Trilkhai
      Facepalm

      "Hi, I'm from Precinct 3611, our phone is broken…"

      Last Tuesday, I was helping set up my election precinct when we ran into a serious snag, so I asked one of my clerks to call the main office using the supplied cellphone. Guy came back a few minutes later to inform me the battery was dead. Baffled, as I'd been careful to charge it the previous night as instructed, I plugged it in to see a "charging complete" message, unplugged it but also couldn't get it to turn on.

      I called the county office from my own phone and was told that they were being flooded with the same complaint. Seems we're all so used to our smartphones that when faced with a feature phone, we were all trying to turn the freaking thing on via the button on the top edge, totally ignoring that it had a 'camera' icon on it or that there was a large button below the screen labeled with the classic "i inside an O" power icon. Oops…

  7. Mine's a Large One

    A colleague once spent about 40 mins on the phone to someone who was insisting the menu on their (DOS 3.31) screen "was different to how it normally looked". They confirmed several times that the PC base unit was definitely on ("yes, there's a green light and a flashing green light..."), the screen was definitely on ("yes, there's a green light. No, it's not orange..."), there was definitely a "C:\" prompt on screen and a flashing cursor, etc.When he asked them to check the cables in the back of each we heard him say about 5 times that no, there must be some mistake, there should be 2 cables plugged into the back of the screen...

    Yes, you got it. No power cable in the monitor. Cue innumerable expletives when the phone was put down.

    Quite how the screen *definitely* had a green light and *definitely* had a "C:\" prompt is still a mystery 20 years later!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Call I received from our service desk (from memory) -

      "Monitor does not switch on, displays "No signal detected" message on screen,

      1. Timbo

        ""Monitor does not switch on, displays "No signal detected" message on screen,"

        Actually I have a 32" Samsung LCD monitor and if the DVI cable (from the PC) "somehow" becomes detached (even though DVI plugs have thumbscrews to hold them in place), I get pretty much the same message along with a huge black border taking up the rest of the screen.....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Yes, but the monitor must still switched "on" (with power LED lit) to display the message.

    2. Blank-Reg
      Holmes

      Phosphor burn maybe? Perhaps he sat there and looked longingly at the C: prompt for hours. More likely, he left it like that when he went home, the C: prompt glowing away happily in the darkened office, slowly burning itself into the monitor permanently...

    3. Natalie Gritpants

      On stuff that old the colour of an LED is usually visible, the prompt is probably burnt into the CRT phosphor. flashing I can't explain, maybe he was blinking.

      1. Mine's a Large One

        If the monitor had been old that'd have been our thought, but they were relatively new (a few months at most) - definitely not burn-in!!

    4. Magani
      Pint

      @ Mine's a Large One

      Quite how the screen *definitely* had a green light and *definitely* had a "C:\" prompt is still a mystery 20 years later!!

      Users see what they want to see. This is not necessarily related to what's actually there (or not there in your case).

      Have one on me ->

    5. 's water music Silver badge

      Quite how the screen *definitely* had a green light and *definitely* had a "C:\" prompt is still a mystery 20 years later!!

      Ambient light and screen burn?

    6. This post has been deleted by its author

    7. ChrisBedford

      Quite how the screen *definitely* had a green light and *definitely* had a "C:\" prompt is still a mystery 20 years later!!

      No mystery. Users say yes if they think that's the 'right' answer.

      Answer to that one is never to put words in their mouths, or ideas in their heads. Instead of 'can you see a green light' ask 'what colour light can you see'. Make *them* describe things to *you*.

  8. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Remember, everyone

    Christmas is coming. Lots of new users of shiny boxes and no clue at all.

  9. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    The problem here is that people turn into witless idiots when they get instructions about a computer. They assume that the support person is going to use jargon even if they don't. It does come back the other way sometimes - I was once talking someone through much the same thing. I asked them to turn off the PC, and they said "the button on the front of the screen?" so I thought, oh, they probably think the box underneath the desk is a "hard drive" or worse still, a "modem".

    "no, the box under the desk", I said.

    "oh, you mean the TCP Stack?" she replied.

    Words failed me. I eventually explained and she said she'd heard a tech use that term before. She did add "well it's a sort of stack".

    1. Youngdog

      Witless idiots

      Not just instructions - pop ups too. It still mystifies me how some people can override the brain's unfaulting habit of automatically turning jumbled shapes into words without any conscious effort - but only when those jumbled shapes are presented in a little rectangle on a screen

      "Error message? Yeah something popped up but dunno what it said - I just hit 'Cancel'. So why doesn't it work?"

      AAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRGHHH!!!!

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: Witless idiots

        I've often been bemused by the way people can never remember what the error message said. What is it that turns intelligent people into witless idiots when using a computer? I think the problem is risk avoidance.

        Using a computer involves continuous risk. You do something wrong and disaster ensues. This even applies to expert technical users; they're are better at managing the risk and they expect to be able to recover from disasters, but if you crank up the unfamiliarity they'll eventually be paralysed by risk aversion, too.

        Remember the old systems that used to beep whenever you made any kind of mistake, however trivial? Anyone who worked with one of those will have been conditioned to avoid the beep at any cost. The error message, however friendly, is a similar mark of failure. Users just want to get it off screen and out of mind as soon as possible.

        1. ChrisBedford

          Re: Witless idiots

          I think the problem is risk avoidance.

          It's called an SEP* field. Can be driven by a single torch battery for up to 2 years.

          *HHGG

      2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: Witless idiots

        "Error message? Yeah something popped up but dunno what it said - I just hit 'Cancel'. So why doesn't it work?"

        I once had a dumb-arse IT support guy working for me who would do exactly that. Every bloody time. He always failed to look at why something wasn't working and concentrated on the end result of the failure... So on the monitor fault front he'd spend ages going through the monitor connections, power status, fuses, power switches and everything else before finally being prodded into the general direction that turning the computer on as well would be a good start...

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Witless idiots

        "pop ups too"

        The real problem popups are those with at least 5 lines of spindly Arial text of which at least 3 are the path to some deeply buried file or a code understood only by the developer who has probably moved onto 4 other jobs since he wrote it. Copy and paste doesn't apply and there's no chance of writing it down correctly.

        Error messages should be short enough and clear enough to be remembered.

        1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Witless idiots

          "Error messages should be short enough and clear enough to be remembered."

          Ah - like "PC LOAD LETTER" then?

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "oh, you mean the TCP Stack?" she replied.

      Ah. A tower PC with a burnt out PSU. It's a stack-like object and burnt circuit board usually smells like TCP.

      (a Britishism, a particular antiseptic liquid with a very distinctive smell)

  10. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    Actually, I thought the story was going to end with her saying that the box under the desk says "Rexel" on it.

    1. Conrad Longmore

      In one lab installation we put a box file under the monitor to raise it up a bit, because the PC was a tower system under the desk. For a laugh, I printed out an icon of a floppy disk drive and glued it onto the box file. On more that one occasion we had baffled users who didn't understand why the disk didn't go in. Hmm.

  11. Bob Wheeler
    Boffin

    Took a call ...

    Many years ago, I took a call, the user stated that "the network was down". I looked over at my management monitor (Novell Managewise at the time) and no, all my servers where up and in the green.

    Talked with the user to try and narrow down the problem and it turned out that their mouse had stopped working.

    Moral of the story is that users are there to do their job, not ours. To them, when a bit of kit stops working/misbehaves and it stops them doing their job then them, at times, it can be that the sky is falling. Our job as the techies is to support them, to keep the kit working so they can do their job.

    Sure it can be frustrating at times when users misuse technical terms or seem to be unable to cross roads safely by themselves, but that's the job. Besides is cheers up a Friday morning reading about other peoples fun times on the hell desk.

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Took a call ...

      The keyword being "users". As in NOT drooling retards.

  12. Mike Shepherd

    Who's the thick one?

    If "Kevin" weren't so thick, he'd know that "power button" is only the jargon of his clique, so would use different terms to be understood. Real experts can communicate with those who are not. The rest will live out their lives as support technicians, swapping stories about "stupid" users.

    1. moiety

      Re: Who's the thick one?

      Insultingly put; but you do raise a real issue...you have to guess at -and then pitch your explanations to- the user's tech level and this is really difficult to do...if you pitch too low the user thinks you're patronising them and stops listening; if you pitch too high you may as well be talking in Swahili.

      It's very, very easy to get wrong. If I'm explaining anything technical these days, I basically tell them that and offer them the opportunity to change that; as well as offering to repeat/re-explain anything they don't understand. If you do this up-front, it makes life easier all round.

  13. Chris 125

    I used to do tech support for a large electronics retailer, primarily on their range of desktops that were designed for "beginners". Yes folks, I was stuck in Packard Hell.

    "My modem isn't working" was a favourite. This was about the time that AOL CDs fell out of every magazine and cereal box, and "dialling up" was the new big thing. You'd begin the troubleshooting with perhaps going into Device Manager and checking it was detected.... "No, it's not working".

    "OK, I just would like to see if it's telling me why it's not working"

    "It's dead and you need to send someone"

    "Could you just click on Start, and..."

    "IT'S NOT WORKING"

    "I appreciate that, sometimes we can get this sorted quicker with a software fix without you having to wait for an engineer. If you could cli...."

    "HOW CAN I CLICK ANYTHING IF IT'S NOT WORKING"

    The penny then dropped, and I added "modem" to the list of words used to describe a desktop PC along with "box", "tower" (confusing when it's not a tower and you're convinced they've swapped it for another model), "hard drive" (for example - "my hard drive isn't working, I took the top off and had a look but I think it needs someone to come out"), confusingly "monitor", and "power supply".

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Typical

    "With just a few minutes to go before quitting time, Kevin took a call"

    They usually phone on Friday, just a few minutes until I'm closing the shop.

    Then they tell me that the problem has been going on since Monday...

    Some also play their trump card and expect replacement equipment *the next day* (not business day, mind you) on other side of the country - or in another country. (multinational with single HQ is not always joyous). And when I quote the air cargo and/or other express delivery prices for a weekend delivery the caller usually play down their haste for repairs...

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Typical

      They usually phone on Friday, just a few minutes until I'm closing the shop.

      Many years ago, whilst working for a certain mobile base-station manufacturer, I was banned from having a sign above my desk that read: "Your incompetence does not constitute my emergency".

      The person who was most responsible (sales type fond of dropping by and giving us 4 hours worth of work at 5pm because he had all the forward-planning skills of a rabid ferret on crack) had apparently complained about my attitude.

      So I generated a counter-complaint about his. He ws gone about 2 weeks later. I guess I wasn't the only person he'd annoyed..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Typical

        "Your incompetence does not constitute my emergency".

        I had the one that says "The impossible we do today - miracles take a little longer". The divisional director came round escorted by our management team. He was very complimentary about me.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @CrazyOldCatMan re desk sign...

        I had that "emergency" one for a while as well, then swapped it for "I'll try being nicer if you try being smarter." My boss got kinda mad until I replayed the "quality & training purposes" recordings of my typical support callers shouting, berating, & insulting me. I asked if he thought that kind of treatment would fly if they tried it to his face in the street. He admitted he would probably end up in jail for assault. I got to keep the sign.

        *Cackle*

      3. Pedigree-Pete
        Thumb Up

        Re: Typical

        The security desk of a multinational firm of drug pushers (read pharmaseuticals) that I contracted for used to have that on their sign-in desk. Probably still do. It's so true. PP

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Understandable

    > Which was code for “going through every expletive I knew and invented

    > on the spot and throwing every stress ball I could find in the office

    > to calm down.”

    When I had the required degree of clout, and worked for a company that was occasionally hard going on the support team, mainly to do with corporate culture, I kept an empty office next to my own. When the going got tough, the User Support team was allowed to go into the office and say anything about any circumstance or anyone when things got too much to bear. I have seen people go in their red faced or even close to tears, but a few minutes later back to their normal selves. It just acted as an un-judgemental relief valve and did huge amounts of good. It was rare for a support team member to have to go home steaming with injustice or general user-induced fury.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Understandable

      Japanese companies had such a room - equipped with an inflated figure that wouldn't stay down. Oh - and a baseball bat.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Understandable

        The equivalent room in America is the gym, complete with a heavy bag because Americans would probably blast a hole in a Boppo the Clown standee inside of two swings.

  16. Dave Walker 1
    Coffee/keyboard

    because 'Off' is so terribly stone-aged...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ugg! Hit with club! Now is off!

  17. Fizzle
    Boffin

    Double-click

    I once had a conversation with what seemed to be a reasonably savvy lady in a Doctor's surgery. She had rung to ask a question about the icons on her desktop. I narrowed down the problem to someone before her having set up Windows to respond to one click rather than the standard two.

    I told her to try double-clicking the icon. It took her a while to work out what I meant. She had been told, when she started working there, that one had to "left-press" on the icon - double clicking was meaningless to her.

    That's when I learnt to speak in single syllable words to users - bless 'em!

  18. Richard Hewitt

    Reminds me of Jeb

    I think this is entirely appropriate here. I laughed so much it hurt the first time I saw this:

    http://www.jebtfreak.com/jebs-jobs-episode-1

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reminds me of Jeb

      Thanks, I enjoyed watching this. And yes, in a previous company I did have a call to help a colleague that had locked herself out of the car

  19. IHateWearingATie
    Facepalm

    This reminds me of several frustrating laptop related phone calls with my Dad....

  20. Avatar of They
    Happy

    Sounds like staff I have working here.

    When I was on helpdesk.

    "Can you turn it off and on again." Me

    "Done that. but the same message is on the screen." Colleague.

    "Did you press the power button and the screen go black?" Me

    "Yes..." Colleague.

    I got up and walked across to her desk.

    "Can you show me which button you pressed?" She turned off the monitor.

    "No that is the monitor, the PC is under the desk."

    And

    "Hi, I have a message saying the network cable is unplugged." Colleague.

    "Can you check that cables are plugged into the back, are any lying on the floor?" Me,

    "Well I accidentally kicked them out, will that matter." Colleague.

    "Did you plug them back in after kicking them out?" Me

    "No..." Colleague.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Terminology

    We used to have a (senior) member of staff here who was quite forceful in her use of terminology and understanding of things technical. She insisted that everyone used the same terms that she did, some of which have stuck despite her retiring years ago, and she refused to be educated because she knew everything.

    The monitor was known as 'the computer'. The main PC unit was 'the hard disk'. Any sort of projector, interchangeably with or without laptop attached was 'a powerpoint' and probably many others I've forgotten. Did make it very hard to actually figure out what the problem was when called up.

    She also insisted that the staff under her had to do things her way and only her way, and she only knew one way to do it. I had to instruct one of my colleagues that he was forbidden from talking to her staff because he was confusing them (I was told "they only have little brains") - he had simply told them they could use ctrl-c/x/v for cut and paste rather than using mouse to select text and go up to the edit menu, and now they weren't doing it 'her way' which was wrong and she couldn't follow what they were doing. Similarly, the 'only way' to copy a Word document was to open it in Word, then save it somewhere else. Amazingly things are much more efficient since she retired.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its not there...

    Several years ago while working support for an academy group i had to set up an assessment grade recording system for each school, each assessment had to be named "Year 7 Maths", "Year 7 English" for clarity. System was installed and ready to use. A few days later i get a call from the assessment manager at one school (who was married to one of our IT support staff incidentally):

    her: "Only the year 7 assessments are there, when are you setting up the others"

    me: "They are already set up and working you should be able to see them on your home screen when you log in"

    her: "well i cant, fix it!"

    This went on for roughly 2 weeks, tried everything i could think of, double checked the assessments where set up, checked her permissions, checked the dates they should be shown, logged in as her etc. All the assessments are there and working. She eventually demanded i visit the school, it just so happened that my boss and head of IT for the group was visiting at the same time and i asked if he could sit in for a few minutes (he was aware of the problems i'd being having with this).

    We sit down and i ask her to log in and show me:

    her: "see i can only access the year 7 assessments"

    I move the mouse to the "more" button just under the list....

    It hadn't occurred to her that the more button might show more assessments and hadn't occurred to me that someone might see the more button and think it did anything else. Needless to say it was my fault for wasting her time, at least my boss was there and prevented the disciplinary complaint going any further.

  23. Sir Sham Cad

    Promote that man to second line

    "Kevin" showed great customer focus and dedication going through that process to help the user long after he should have gone off shift. That's a very admirable trait.

    It shouldn't have taken him that long to realise that this was a communication problem not a "stupid user" problem even though the user was stupid. Nor was it a particularly difficult technical issue.

    Nor, in fairness, did he log the call, shake his head, declare the problem to be beyond his ability to fix "sounds like a CPU nanometer core misalignment problem to me, I'll need to escalate to second line who'll be there in the morning kthxbye" like some people I've worked with have done.

    Helldesk most certainly wasn't the role he was best matched with, just as I expect it wasn't for most of us who started there. If I were "Kevin"'s boss I'd have written up a good report and recommended a promotion to a second line break/fix team.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Promote that man to second line

      In the early days of PCs a user rang her helpline for a problem with switching it on. It eventually transpired that her home electric sewing machine had a foot operated power switch attached by a cable. As the PC had a rectangular mouse she had assumed this was the foot switch..

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New LCD monitor arrived with the box rather wet. Didn't seem to have affected the monitor so plugged it into the mains and the PC. Little amber light shows power is there - but no picture. No buttons on the black bezel - just legends. Touch the "power on" legend - nothing happens.

    Read the manual - find the section. Picture shows four lines going to the bezel legends.

    Eventually give up - must be transit damage. Lift the monitor off the desk and it starts working. Put it down - won't switch off though. Take the mains plug out - put it back in. Only lifting it up seems to switch it on. Repeat a couple of times - what are those little clicks I hear? Four tiny black microswitches almost flush on the underside of the bezel below the legends.

  25. Steve K Silver badge
    Coat

    F1 Key

    I love sniffing my F1 key... don't worry though, I'm trying to get help

  26. RavingDaveD

    Back in the early 80’s when Amstrad PCW word processors were just coming into fashion, I was a lecturer at a company training college (days when training was taken seriously). The college had been earmarked for closure as part of a corporate re-structuring exercise and many of the staff were busying themselves applying for other roles both external and internal.

    The last course was underway and, during a tea break one particular morning, the course lecturer stormed into the staff room furious at all and sundry demanding to know who had been tampering with his CV on his PCW. No one owned up to anything. After calming him down and several of us visiting the offending computer, it turned out that he had left the machine running to perform a spelling check while he took his class. With the unsophisticated spilling chucker in ‘automatic change’ mode it naturally converted the first 2 words it came across into ‘Curious Vitals’, quite appropriate really.

  27. SomeoneInDelaware
    Boffin

    VPs

    I once had a VP of IT here who received one of our company's first color graphics terminals on the IBM mainframe. He had his boss in his office and was going to demonstrate his new toy for him.

    But the screen was blank. So, of course, he called me directly (I was supervisor of network ops in those days). I walked into his office, said hello to them both, then reached over and turned on the power switch.

    Executed a smart about face and left the office.

    The Sr VP saw me in the elevator and asked me how I kept a straight face earlier. My reply -- never bite the hand that feeds you. :-)

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: VPs

      "never bite the hand that feeds you."

      You'll never get a job on El Reg with that attitude!

  28. Custard Fridge

    Carriage return - ding!

    My Logitech keyboard has two 'ENTER' keys. The Microsoft & Lenovo keyboards next to it has Enter (number pad side) and the carriage return key.

    I must be getting on a bit for this key - mainly because at Uni I would type my essays and use the return key to make the carriage return (on one type writer with a satifsying 'ting').

    Later, using actual computers there would be times I wanted to carriage return and not enter, and visa-versa. This is still true now - Facebook springs to mind.

    Still no sign of an 'Any' key to press though. Bastards.

  29. Conrad Longmore

    The mouse that never worked in the afternoon..

    One day (in the early 1990s) I was called out to install something-or-other in an academic department of the college I worked in that I hadn't previously been aware of.

    Having set whatever it was up, the users casually mentioned that another one of their computers didn't work in the afternoon.. well, *most* afternoons. It was OK in the morning, but after lunch it apparently stopped and the person using it couldn't do any more work. This had been going on for months. It didn't seem to particularly bother them that they spent their afternoons sitting around doing nothing.

    It transpired that the problem was that the mouse stopped working, and with no mouse they couldn't possibly interact with the state-of-the-art Windows 3.1 PC. They just accepted that it didn't work in the afternoon.

    The problem was a daft one.. the early optomechnical mouse had optical sensors internally which were being flooded out by the sunlight shining on the plastic. Putting in a better mouse fixed the problem. But what got me was the laid-back attitude to not doing any work. Maybe not surprising in that environment.

    (The same department also had a then-massive 21" CRT monitor on another system that they insisted on running in VGA resolution despite there being no reason to do so. They went ballistic when I tweaked it to 800x600 pixels).

    1. Anonymous IV

      Re: The mouse that never worked in the afternoon..

      Much the same problem occurred with the mighty Amstrad PCW8512 word processing box! If afternoon/evening sunlight got in at the right angle on the diskette drives, all sorts of unhappiness used to occur.

      Solution: interpose yourself between the sun and the drives.

      1. psychonaut

        Re: The mouse that never worked in the afternoon..

        blimey - good work there guys.

    2. Doogs

      Re: The mouse that never worked in the afternoon..

      I had exactly the same thing happening in a classroom of the college I was working in.

      Solved it by coating the inside of the mouse case with insulation tape.

  30. Custard Fridge

    The Register Annual 2017 - you read it here first

    I wonder if all these 'On-call' Friday stories are either -

    Made up - 15 minutes to explain a PC box layout?

    or

    Supposed to be a bit crap but able to generate lots of better stories that will be published in The Register Annual 2017?

    1. psychonaut

      Re: The Register Annual 2017 - you read it here first

      i doubt its made up. people can be stupid, arrogant and beligerent. i had to have someone send me a picture of the back of their pc so as i could put a ring around the vga socket on the pci graphics card (in paint) instead of the motherboard graphics card and send it back to him, even though, after 15 minutes of them calling me all manner of things and insisting that it wasnt there and that the pc wasnt working (he's plugged the monitor into the motherboard vga socket instead of the pci graphcs card, it wouldnt display from that port. i knew trhis was the problem from the minute he phoned me, but he wouldnt have it)

      he even blamed me afterwards for not being able to point it out over the phone. theres only so many ways you can tell someone to look for the same colour, same shape socket but a bit more towards the floor on a piece of real estate that is at best about 20 cm by 40.

      the guy is an fucking idiot and his behavior is always like this, its never his fault whatever happens (he decided to upgrade 2 of the office machines to win 10 against my advice, and all the file shares and security went to shit, as well as the network card disconnecting randomly until new drivers were released about 4 months ago...would he let me change the network card? would he f*ck) , but most importantly, he doesnt actually listen to what you are telling him and just blames you for it not working instead of maybe realising that it is his fault.

      i think this is why you are getting the downvotes

  31. Roger Kynaston

    Similar experience

    A phone call from my Mother in Law.

    "The internet is broken"

    I asked her to describe what she saw and what she told me sounded like a disk failure

    Turns out that she had got the left right buttons on the mouse confused and somehow deleted the firefox shortcut on the task bar.

    Since she never used computers until about seven years ago I can't really complain but I do wish I could just nip down there (jamaica) every time there is a problem of this sort rather than have multiple phone calls after work.

    I have always tried not view very inexperienced users with contempt. Experienced users is another matter entirely ;-)

    1. psychonaut

      Re: Similar experience

      i have a user (he's 92) who has always used his mouse upside down. its what he knows and it works for him...

  32. cliosguy

    F+1+2?

    I remembered a coworker of mine with that story; he was giving phone support to a guy, my coworker needed the guy to hit F12, the guy kept say: "Nothing is happening", after a while the guy finally told my coworker: "I don't know what is wrong, I keep pressing F, then 1 and 2 at the same time, but is not working".

    That's when I learned that even when you think the guy on the other end of the phone is getting what you're saying, is best to make sure the message was clearly received so both of you can avoid wasting your time.

    So maybe starting by saying: "how do you normally turn off your computer?", "how do you normally turn on your computer?" or "do you see a button that specifically says 'F12'?"; it goes a long way.

    1. psychonaut

      Re: F+1+2?

      ive learned the same lessons, but the problem with this is that the worst users will say "yes im doing it im doing it" when they dont actually listen to what you are telling them in the first place.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Angel

        Re: F+1+2?

        ive learned the same lessons, but the problem with this is that the worst users will say "yes im doing it im doing it" when they dont actually listen to what you are telling them in the first place.

        Yep. I've posted something like this fairly recently I think - I've often been watching a user either remotely (via TV/Skype desktop sharing etc) or even behind them watching. I'd tell them to click on a certain icon "second from the top left" or something like that, and have them a) move their mouse to the bottom right and try to tell me it's top left and-or b) tell me there are no icons on the top left.

        Then there's the ones who, as soon as a message comes up, they close it even when you tell them explicitly "Now this time please don't close that message, I need to see what it says, now, click on the icon to start the program and, no you closed that message again. please leave it there so I can read it. Now, clicks on the icon to start the program and DAMMIT! Don't close that fucking box. Now, start the program and... And some who deny closing the window that I've just watched them close. One who often does a "I'll just click on this and see what it does" while I am telling them NOT to click on anything unless I tell them specifically to do so.

        Hmm.. ISTR a BOFH episode where the ENTER or RETURN text was actually a series of conductive tracks, giving decent jolts to anyone using it.. Wonder if I can rig something similar to some of these user's mice. Click the wrong thing, get a virtual slap on the hand - with real pain and (if the jolts are fun enough) real loss of bodily control!

        Icon -> Me? I'd never do that.. Honest!

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: F+1+2?

          "Hmm.. ISTR a BOFH episode where the ENTER or RETURN text was actually a series of conductive tracks, giving decent jolts to anyone using it.. Wonder if I can rig something similar to some of these user's mice. Click the wrong thing, get a virtual slap on the hand - with real pain and (if the jolts are fun enough) real loss of bodily control!"

          But then you meet your match with a masochist. Pain gets him off.

      2. cliosguy

        Re: F+1+2?

        Luckily in my line of work, we usually don't waste that much time hoping the other guy is doing things right; if we feel there is no progress, we schedule an on-site visit and call it a day.

        I feel bad for those that have no choice but to find a way to fix the problem remotely.

        1. Public Citizen

          Re: F+1+2?

          In some cases the "appropriate fix" isn't allowed because it involves calling the people with the rubber van to encourage an all expense paid vacation to Happydale Farm or similar.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: F+1+2?

      "That's when I learned that even when you think the guy on the other end of the phone is getting what you're saying, is best to make sure the message was clearly received so both of you can avoid wasting your time."

      Many years ago I did a C+G course to be a YTS trainer. One of the exercises was to pair off and be given a set of various shaped wooden blocks. One had to build a shape/tower behind a screen then describe to the other how to build the same model. It certainly brought home the requirement to be very clear and explicit in your instructions and to then realise that someone else's interpretation of what you said can still be different to yours.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: F+1+2?

        Sorta reminded me of a scenario I played out in my head a couple days ago. If we were to make first contact with an alien civilization and we at least somehow found a way to communicate, how would we begin relating stuff like measurements to each other? The challenges in finding ways to communicate things we take for granted but would be, for lack of a better term, utterly alien to them, like how long is a second?

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: F+1+2?

        "It certainly brought home the requirement to be very clear and explicit in your instructions and to then realise that someone else's interpretation of what you said can still be different to yours."

        It can also drive home the point that sometimes you just can't win because you end up with a person who can't find their butt with both hands and a road map. Tell them to pick up the three-inch cylinder (the ONLY block in the bunch that matches the description), and they end up using the oblong brick. And they swear it's the cylinder, and when you ask what they call the cylinder, they answer "stick".

        It's times like this when you wonder if "civilization" is overrated.

        1. Public Citizen
          Alert

          Re: F+1+2?

          This is where the person needs to take a basic IQ evaluation in order to determine just how far to the left side of the bell curve they are.

          One of the most frightening thoughts in the world [for me anyway] is that there is somebody running around out there who is as far on the left side of the curve as every smart person on the right side.

          Some of these people, who regularly impersonate a functioning human being, aren't even as intelligent as a trained bear yet the bear is kept under lock and key when not performing and most of these "people" are running around loose.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: F+1+2?

            I'll go you one worse: Someone like you describe who's in a position to dictate terms to everyone else. That is, a total idiot who happens to be in charge of everything.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: F+1+2?

      "do you see a button that specifically says 'F12'?"

      Slight snag with that. Laptop one: simply keying F1 - F12 gets the functions, holding down the fn key at the same time gets the hardware controls - brighter, dimmer etc. Laptop two: yup, you guessed it - the other way round. How do you know what the user has unless you're very familiar with the particular model.

  33. Florida1920
    Facepalm

    Probably fairly common

    Once worked for a company a major PC mfr outsourced tech support to. Working Christmas Day for the extra $$$, I get The Call. Customer has just set up new PC and "it was working fine until I turned it off. When I turned it on again it wouldn't do anything." What did you do before turning it off?

    Naturally, he had to delete the Windows directory, because he didn't need it anymore and it was using a lot of HD space (this was in 2000).

  34. Andy Taylor

    My users know what the power button is...

    ...but it took me a little while to realise that most of the PCs were set to sleep when the power button was pressed rather than power off.

  35. MsScullz
    Unhappy

    What do you mean by "click"?

    I once, as a fairly new helldesk employee, spent an hour and a half on the phone to a user who rang to say she couldn't log in. It soon became evident that she had never used a computer in her life and the normal "click this, type that" instructions made no sense to her: I had to walk her through *how to use the keyboard and mouse*. When I finally got her onto the desktop I demanded to speak to her manager, strongly recommended training the user, advised that we don't provide it ourselves and hung up. I turned around to a standing ovation from the rest of the desk, who had been listening in amazement.

    Soon after that event was when I took up drinking.

    1. psychonaut

      Re: What do you mean by "click"?

      haha ! you an me both mate. if you cant use a keyboard then you really need to be in a job without IT requirements. ive not had it that bad, but nearly.

    2. Pedigree-Pete
      Pint

      Re: What do you mean by "click"?

      I thought that was what Solitaire was for. I remember presenting my 70 something Mum with a mouse to play a DOS version of Risk. Took her 10-15 mins to get the hand eye co-ordination thingy going before she could even deploy troops but that's training and your diatribe to the Manager was most justified.

      Have one of these squire.

      PP

  36. Mutton Jeff

    Where's the "Any" key?

    My keyboard doesn't have one!

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Where's the "Any" key?

      I actually once made one. By which I mean I used a labelprinter, printed a little lable saying "ANY" and stuck it on one of the F-keys.

      That worked. Every other thing I tried before didn't.

      The PC in question was used by a colleague who, when using the word processor, insisted on hitting the CR/Enter key whenever the text on the screen was approaching the border of the display. For every line of text. Just like you would on a typewriter. Made editing/reformatting those documents real fun.

      Some people are immune to learning anything new.

    2. PerspexAvenger

      Re: Where's the "Any" key?

      That's why, if you get the chance, you change it to "Press 'A' key to continue..."

      The terminally confused can at least normally then find it. After a while.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Where's the "Any" key?

        That's why, if you get the chance, you change it to "Press 'A' key to continue..."

        The terminally confused can at least normally then find it. After a while.

        Dunno.. They way some of them are I doubt they could find their A-hole with a map, flashlight, and helpful-but-effeminate guide, let alone the "A" key.

        How some of these people end up in jobs with IT requirements I don't know.. Why basic checking of claimed IT skills isn't a requirement...

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Where's the "Any" key?

          "Dunno.. They way some of them are I doubt they could find their A-hole with a map, flashlight, and helpful-but-effeminate guide, let alone the "A" key."

          Oh? If their name has an a in it, then ask them how they type their name.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Where's the "Any" key?

          "How some of these people end up in jobs with IT requirements I don't know.. Why basic checking of claimed IT skills isn't a requirement..."

          Barrel scraping, likely. If they're the only applicants for a position that MUST be filled before the suits arrive...

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    System Admins

    While working Server Hardware Warranty Support, I keep encountering Sys Admins who lack the skills to do their job. They contact the part replacement department for config questions ( for which they get transferred to the fee based "How To Group"). More than half the hardware cases are actually config issues. Ever wondered why network security is weak at some companies? Sys Admins.

  38. psychonaut

    it just goes on and on

    its not to do with jargon, although yes, it could be. but when we are dealing with this kind of user sometimes i lose faith that people can actually function at all in the modern world.

    the power button issue. i see this too. imagine its a tv. can you use your tv? yes you can. well, its the same symbol, the same principal, it has a button. it needs to be turned on. usually the same one turns it off. how can you not know this?

    if i asked someone the make of their car, they would go and figure it out. ask them the make of their pc....err, is it a microsoft?

    people turn the monitor on and off when asked to turn the pc off and back on quite regularly.

    ive had a customer who said "oh, no i dont deal with that, my husband would have to be asked" when i asked her if she had any 4 way mains adaptors/plug boards anywhere. that wasnt jargon, i explained it in many different ways, it was just a total almost religious denial that such a thing could be comprehended by her.

    it wasnt that she didnt know what they were, it was that they basically dont exist in her universe. eeeuuurghhh i cant deal with it - someone else help!

    ive had people manage to jam usb cables into ethernet sockets (they just about fit - try diagnosing that one over the phone....it took a while)

    this is a transcript of a job that i had that i summarised and emailed to another technician:

    So I've been trying to figure out what the fuck is going on this blokes machine.

    Remotely, I fixed outlook for him, rebooted and he said the screen was blank.

    I could see his screen and use it.

    Check monitor is ok. Its fine

    Teamviewer said there were 2 monitors.

    So I moved a window over to the second monitor and he could see it.

    So I said, ok, so the right hand screen is ok, but the other screen is blank though.

    Repeat:

    What other screen he said?

    I said, the other screen that you have

    Until frustration = how fucking stupid are you

    So I look in device manager. 2 screens. I check the graphics properties. Extend desktop is on, showing 2 screens.

    I update graphics driver.

    I search the web. 2 other people on the planet have had issues with this. none of the fixes work.

    I eventually figure out that he has plugged the same monitor, which has a vga and a hdmi port, into the same pc, with both cables.

    ive got a guy who has called me 3 times in the last month because his speakers dont work. every fucking time they arent turned on.

    theres the users that, when yopu say "right, can you see this on the screen, it must be there" immediately say "no, its not there, i keep telling you" and get all pissed off. they havent even had the time to look properly, they dont bother, and it is there, they just havent seen it. these people are a problem,

    i love the earlier comment "they stopped thinking, and so called support" (im paraphrasing possibly) - but its true. a lot of people freak out and forget, or dont have the inbuilt tools, to deal with tech in the way they would deal with any other kind of problem their brains just dissolve.

    it used to really piss me off, im much better at it now, i find it funny more than anything these days, but blimey, its a shitty irritating job sometiimes.

    1. cliosguy

      Re: it just goes on and on

      I've never heard that "dual monitor setup" one, I will add it to the list.

  39. johnwerneken

    My Favorite

    It's pushing midnight Friday the cue is flat we're on a downward roll. Call. Computer is 'busted'. Eventually we learn issue is no internet access. What shows on her screen? Nothing.

    There is a cpu containing box but no lights are on.

    Yes it is plugged in.

    No no one else has a working computer.

    Is the printer working I ask in desperation. No.

    WHAT DOES WORK that is electrical? Nothing.

    ARE THE LIGHTS ON? NO

    User is in a big fancy high tech law firm in the Transamerica Tower. Power to the whole city of San Francisco has been off for an hour.

    I asked her why she called us? "cause the only thing working was the phone'.

    ARGH......

    1. Fizzle
      Flame

      Re: My Favorite

      I read this story years ago - I think you have tried to paraphrase the old Wordperfect scenario where the tech told the user to send the computer back 'cos he was too effing stupid to own one.

      Deny it mate?

      1. psychonaut

        Re: My Favorite

        it does ring a bell huh? maybe cos theres a grain of truth in it...

  40. ted frater

    A gender thing?

    Im active on a jewellery silver/goldsmithing forum( my occupation) and most of the simplest tech queries come from the female of our species.

    Im convinced that its an upbringing thing, boys tend to go out and help their dad's whereas girls seem to help their mum's more. so its not surprising that after a childhood focussing on tasks outher than technical, they find it difficult to comperhend what to us seem obvious.

    for example i was blessed with a son after 3 daughters at age 50, and chose to let him into the factory as soon as he could walk. ?/////didnt get much work done ! but he has had 14 yrs under my feet and has gone on to uni to do comp science. He has it in his head as well as in his hands. a rare combination. what he' lacks like a lot of young folks is not much patience.

    I wish Id have the chance to do the same with a daughter, replicate what Hugh had and see what the outcome is. Regrets it wont happen. In 18 yrs ill be 100.

    Anyone a 2yr old daughter to try it out?

    Ted

    in Dorset

    1. psychonaut

      Re: A gender thing?

      no daughters...just 2 boys. and 5 nephews. no chance of that in my family im afraid!

    2. Sherrie Ludwig

      Re: A gender thing?

      Im convinced that its an upbringing thing, boys tend to go out and help their dad's whereas girls seem to help their mum's more. so its not surprising that after a childhood focussing on tasks outher than technical, they find it difficult to comperhend what to us seem obvious.

      Every math and tech proficient woman I have even known was either the eldest daughter or only child of a dad who had really wanted a son. Especially if her name was a feminized version of her dad's - Charlene, daughter of Charles.

  41. rhydy

    true, first hand

    User (at insurance brand you know well) asks: hello, how do I get past the wall? Sorry, what wall? I've come in to work and the computer I'm at has a brick wall, how do I get past the brick wall? I start wondering if the user is playing a platform game and wonder if a mushroom princess or giant rabbit might need to be defeated. After trying to get any further useful info, and failing to get any dialogue beyond "get me past the brick wall" I make the trip to desk side. Bingo! Remember how windows 3 had a program manager that could be minimised....and one of the wallpaper options was brick? Yep, solution, press return....or space....or use the mouse to open the ONLY ICON on the screen.

  42. kain preacher Silver badge

    My favorite. This lady calls up and says her DSL is not working. I asked her the usual stuff. Then I ask her does she have dial tone. she said no. I ask her is there any construction going on she said yes. they are digging up the street.It's not uncommon for some ass hole to just dig and hit phone and cable lines. I told her she would have call the pone company so that they can repair the line. She said no I want my DSL fixed now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I wonder what would happen when you had told the lady that you're not responsible for the DSL line as that belongs to the phone company (which she gets billed for, ask her for her latest statement) and therefore all complaints about the DSL must be directed to them, this is no longer your problem (click).

      1. kain preacher Silver badge

        I had to wait for her to hang up. You hang up on a customer and you get fired.

        She refused to accept that the physical line had to be repaired as I saw that she called in 3 more times that day. You get a little nasty note when you get a repeat call with in a week.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          "I had to wait for her to hang up. You hang up on a customer and you get fired."

          Even when you're getting the blame for something that isn't possibly yours? They record the phone call, don't they? Challenge them by asking them to play it back. If they're going to fire you over what I term a "brick", then perhaps they're not the right company to work for in any event.

          "She refused to accept that the physical line had to be repaired as I saw that she called in 3 more times that day. You get a little nasty note when you get a repeat call with in a week."

          Again, point out she's blaming the company for something that isn't theirs. Doesn't the company have a policy for dealing with impossible demands?

          1. kain preacher Silver badge

            This is the very company that gave Dilbert the inspiration to write his comics.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              You mean Scott Adams, IIRC, and yes I recall he said Dilbert was based on his real-life office days. Like Wally was based on a real-life coworker he knew that was trying to get fired in a certain way to get the bonus associated with it.

            2. kain preacher Silver badge

              yes I blank out Scott addams. People from the company still email him about the craziness that goes on there .

              he lady with they pointy hair was a real person to, One day she came in with her hair shaped like a triangle so Scott knew that she knew it was a bout her.

  43. kain preacher Silver badge

    This one that too me a bit to get. There are people out there that need reading glasses but are to vain to get them. So they set the resolution to 600x800. Great the can read it but stuff is off the screen. So when you ask them to click on some thing it's not there. Since you are looking at the screen in normal resolution it does not occur to you to ask the user to scroll. The user is pissed at you cause there is nothing for them to click on.

  44. Pangasinan

    The power switch is ALWAYS at the back of the computer

    I remember there were TV programs aimed at newbie PC users.

    This was in the days that I was repairing (to component level) Commode PETs (because I once did an Intel 8080 assembler SDK course).

    The TV explained that the power switches were on the back so that the computer could not be powered off accidentally.

    Late 1980's IIRC.

    Les in Manila (retired)

    1. harmjschoonhoven
      Thumb Up

      Re: The power switch is ALWAYS at the back of the computer

      From A.N. Walker The UNIX™ Environment (1984): Unix can stop in three ways: out of control, in panic, or under user control. Out-of-control stops are caused either by catastrophic hardware failure, or by catastrophic bugs in Kernel (rare), or by idiotic user behaviour (such as switching off the power).

    2. ted frater

      Switches as opposed to buttins

      I was fortunate to have my engineering degree in aviation , and last night had this moment of insight!!

      look at any cockpit and all the switches are like electrical switches used to be.

      a lever that would be either up or down with a light on the lever end to show when its energised!!

      so a button is cheaper thats why its used whereas on the flight deck it would be a disaster despite having a green light to say its on. i was always glad to see 3 green lights on approach to RAF Ballykelly after 12 hrs over the noggin looking for USSR subs, to show the under cart was locked down

      !!

      A positive clunk click cant be beat. And its much more positive for safety reasons.

      a proper lever sw on the front of all comp kit? for our blessed female user?

      A real selling point.

      But im just a luddite for safety.

      Ted.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Switches as opposed to buttins

        But then Murphy can hit even there. Such as a switch put in upside-down so it's on when it's DOWN, or one that's miswired so it's on all the time, and so on. It's as the late Douglas Adams wrote once. There will always be a person for whom even the simplest design possible is beyond them (either that or they're the type where the solution to the square peg and the round hole is a big enough hammer). And yet at some point your life will depend on that person.

        1. ricardian

          Re: Switches as opposed to buttins

          In the UK a switch is ON when it is DOWN. I believe the reverse is true in the USA

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Switches as opposed to buttins

            In most environments I think on is UP because up is against gravity. If something FALLS on the switch, the most likely result is the switch being turned OFF, rendering it safer in the event of an accident that breaks the switch tab. I don't know about horizontal switches, though; I don't think there's a legal preference. Some prefer on being to the right as most people are right-handed while others want on to be away from the most common approach (like the door if it's against a doorway) as that's easier to do for a sweeping hand that's going into the room half-blind.

  45. Kiwi Silver badge

    Been there..

    I used to work with an IT "Expert", a woman who - to listen to her describe her time in computing - all but invented the internet (in the mid 90's as well, email (or any other electronic messaging) wasn't around before 1995! She knows coz she helped invent it!)

    She once actually tried to accuse me of deliberately trying to cause her problems because I changed the front of her laptop case and removed the separate "on" button the laptop had always had, leaving only the "off" button so she couldn't turn it on.

    Suffice to say, after she'd complained to management who brought me into a disciplinary meeting along with the offending laptop, and the HR person was also obviously in on it when they pointed out that their laptop also had only one power button. Suffice to say her job in IT did not last much longer.

  46. JJKing Silver badge

    IT support can make strong people cry.

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

    I always gave my L users lessons. This was more for my benefit they would know what things were called but I also showed them things as well, like the difference between Hibernate, Sleep and Shutdown. I would tell them why it was not a good idea to have 42GB of file on the desktop and give them training on how to MOVE it to the appropriate folder and then create a shortcut for it on the desktop. I would then explain 7 or 8 months later to the same L user why it was not a good idea to have 96GB on their desktop and again show them how to move it and as before, I would have them repeat the lesson 2 or 3 times. Third time it was then their slow machine and not mine. Teachers are not good IT users.

    1. Kiwi Silver badge

      Re: IT support can make strong people cry.

      I would tell them why it was not a good idea to have 42GB of file on the desktop and give them training on how to MOVE it to the appropriate folder and then create a shortcut for it on the desktop.

      Back in the days when Macs were uber-secure.. I visited a mate and noticed just how long his machine took to start. And saw how cluttered his desktop was. At home that night I got him on ICQ, got his IP, ssh'd in (without needing username or password or having some defaults, can't recall which - whatever it was it was different to what he used himself), and started running some scripts to make folders and move stuff. He noticed his machine seemed a bit busy (IIRC for some reason on the Mac's it wasn't a case of just moving pointers, but I may've been spreading stuff over different disks with shortcuts to the original location). At the end suggested he restart his machine then we could talk about a security issue. He was amazed at how quickly it started when it didn't have to try and draw many thousands of icons on the desktop!

      Wish I could've seen his face when I told him how, armed with his IP (he was on dial up so no router) I could get into his machine without knowing his username or password, and have full control over his data. I did talk him through how to block SSH at the firewall and how to open a terminal and change a few things so it was secure.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: IT support can make strong people cry.

        "Wish I could've seen his face when I told him how, armed with his IP (he was on dial up so no router) I could get into his machine without knowing his username or password, and have full control over his data. I did talk him through how to block SSH at the firewall and how to open a terminal and change a few things so it was secure."

        Would you change your mind if his face took on a look of complete puzzlement instead?

  47. Colin Tree

    take away

    If you don't use the technology properly,

    I'll come down there and take it off you.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: take away

      "Over my dead body."

      Remember, many computers are in private homes, and there are people who don't take the kind of intrusion you propose lightly.

      That's why you can't compare car usage to road usage: because cars at least run on government-regulated roads. If you demand a license to use a computer in the privacy of one's home, you're asking for Big Brother.

  48. josephharris

    As a non-technical user of a machine far above my comprehension level - or pay grade - and starting with the days of MS-DOS, I have embarrassed myself, by email (thank goodness), even recently over email problems which mostly resolve to something I have forgotten should be checked, or an action like closing and restarting the email client [or is it agent?] to clear whatever log-jam has tied up the electrons.

    I was more amused by the car stories. I have driven for - well never mind. But my cars have usually reached the scrap heap stage, so I am way behind in the technologies [bring back SU downdraft].My current car was a challenge to fill. I could not open the access flap, let alone discover if the cap required a key or not.

    I spent some time examining the dashboard and under it for something that might say "Press to access fuel fill" - or something. I have my car seat quite forward, so it was about five minutes before my eyes ranged further and eventually saw a little lever to pull. One day I spent a few minutes looking at the driver's manual...

    Ladies and gentlemen, you have my thanks for your patience and support. We try, but unlike the old Avis, we don't try harder :-)

  49. DrM
    Holmes

    How about

    "Is a button lit? Push it?"

  50. Asylum_visitor

    shutdown -r -t 0

  51. 2Fat2Bald

    Wonko the sane had a point...

  52. tuppennyblue

    Happened to me many years ago... could not figure why the computer would not respond normally to mouse clicks... until I figured out that she had the mouse the wrong way round... And then there was the woman who put the mouse on the floor because she thought you used it like a sewing machine pedal. Admittedly this was almost 20 years back when many people had never used a computer before.

  53. Bill_Sticker

    40 minute help desk call for the on and off button? The zombie apocalypse has arrived. It's probably been with us for quite a while.....

  54. Public Citizen
    Mushroom

    The thought that kept going through my mind is the absolute horror this guy created.

    Now that she [theoretically] knows how to turn the machine on and off she probably ate up the equivalent of one full time help desk job for the ensuing 6 months plus just in attempting to start a web browser and use email.

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 © 1998–2019