back to article I don't have to save my work, it's in The Cloud. But Microsoft really must fix this files issue

Join us in closing out the week with another tale from those brave souls charged with taking that call in our weekly feature, On Call. Today's storyteller we will call "Jason" in order to protect the less-than-innocent. Jason worked as support for an organisation in the process of migrating users to the excitingly cloudy world …

  1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Reminds me of when I was at school, and idiots thought that if a document showed in their taskbar that it was saved.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      I've seen worse, unfortunately. I've seen students walk away with their work saved to a floppy disk (yes, I am going back a year or two here) and expect to be able to carry on working on it at another computer. Any computer, regardless of whether or not it had desktop publishing or CAD software installed on it.

      1. PerlyKing Bronze badge
        Happy

        What do you mean I need to install software and load the file?!

        Sounds like insufficiently advanced technology to me ;-)

      2. Chunky Munky
        Facepalm

        I'm with you Rich. At my school we are constantly telling both staff and students NEVER to use a USB stick to save the ONLY copy of anything - they are always getting lost/broken/put through the washing machine etc etc.

        I get at least one call a month asking if I can recover the 'lost' reports/coursework/ teaching plans or whatever. Usually, Recuva can find things, but there are times when even that struggles. I recent 6th form student contacted the support desk to restore the past 2 years work which was needed for her end of year assessment thingy. When I asked her to drop it in to me, she responded 'but I've lost it - that's why I need you to recover my stuff'. You guessed it - the USB stick was the only place the files were saved, no networked user area saves, school Google drive account - nowhere. It's also annoying that 2 days later her parents contacted the school complaining that 'we'd' lost her data and refused to help her get it back

        1. Nick Kew Silver badge
          Facepalm

          A very traditional story

          Dog ate my [insert current storage medium here].

          1. Spanners Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: A very traditional story @Nick Kew

            I have found that a dog swallowing a USB is the most effective method of data destruction.

            I have recovered several that have been through a washing machine. Has anyone here not dealt with coffee or tea immersion? I even managed to have one of my own come into several pieces but still worked long enough to get stuff off.

            1. aberglas

              Nobody tells students nothing

              There is zero training about how to use a computer. At least in Australian schools. Kids are supposed to just "pick it up".

              How could there be? Their teachers don't have a clue either. And it would break every rule in the book if IT was to talk to them. The only message they get, over and over, is the evils of cyber bullying and how that could embarrass the school administration.

              Some of them have parents who teach them. But most just wonder on.

              So why wouldn't they just use a USB stick? It seems to work, and they have other priorities than stuffing about with IT.

              1. TTY

                Re: Nobody tells students nothing

                Comes down to what the powers that be consider important. Embarrassment from bullying, yes. Kids learning the basics of an unavoidable tool, meh.

                1. rskurat

                  Re: Nobody tells students nothing

                  The media go on and on about how "tech-savvy" kids are. My arse. They know their phones and possibly some video or sound editing software. The end.

              2. Roger B

                Re: Nobody tells students nothing

                The one big thing I remember from my school days of using the computer and the 3.5" floppies was, "This one is broken, this one is about to break" so, we always ended lessons saving our work on to two separate discs, and we all had some form of plastic storage box, mine is still with me, from "Office Data" it holds 4 discs which pop up when you open it. I don't think I ever lost any work in the 2 years I used it.

                1. Loud Speaker

                  Stick it up your USB!

                  If your data is important (as in "you want to see it again") the rule is: three copies, on each of three different TAPES, in three different locations (ie nine tapes in all).

                  Does not need to by 800BPI 1/2" tape - LTOx is acceptable.

                  1. VikiAi Silver badge

                    Re: Stick it up your USB!

                    My data isn't /quite/ that important, but I do backup to secondary flash drive* (daily) , mag risk (weekly) and /archival grade/ optical (monthly) . Two copies of the last, one stored 100km away at my mum's place.

                    *This first one is particularly useful not so much for disaster recovery, as for reversion of files when I realise I have gone off on entirely the wrong track in a task and need a (hopefully only partial) do-over!

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Stick it up your USB!

                      Geeeze, how do you backup important data?

                      1. VikiAi Silver badge
                        Happy

                        Re: Stick it up your USB!

                        That goes on the work share. Which has a proper file-reversion system, is RAIDed each way to Sunday at both the main facility and the off-site disaster recovery facility across the city, and spools out to a city-away tape every night.

                    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

                      Re: Stick it up your USB!

                      Well yes. We've all said stuff like that here before. As for at home, main house computer has 3 HDDs. One is just for Macrium Reflect disk images. One has backups of the data partitions that contains family photos and documents.

                      And the laptops all backup across network to that too.

                      Which in turn backs up to an external HDD that I swap from time to time.

                      And yes, I also back some stuff up to various free "cloud" drives. Just in case.

                      And I store stuff away from home too.

                      Because "Just in case" is bound to happen - especially if you don't.

                    3. dajames Silver badge

                      Re: Stick it up your USB!

                      ... for reversion of files when I realise I have gone off on entirely the wrong track in a task and need a (hopefully only partial) do-over.

                      That's what version control systems are for.

                    4. Joe W Silver badge

                      Re: Stick it up your USB!

                      Reversion of files? Do yourself a favour and start using a version control software...

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Nobody tells students nothing

                Much the same as sex education, then?

                1. Fungus Bob Silver badge
                  Holmes

                  Re: Nobody tells students nothing

                  If the teen pregnancy stats are anything to go by, the kids seem to pick that up.

                  1. Olivier2553 Silver badge

                    Re: Nobody tells students nothing

                    If the teen pregnancy stats are anything to go by, the kids seem to pick that up.

                    Or not. If they picked it up, they'd know how to avoid pregnancy (and STD).

              4. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Nobody tells students nothing

                My family is now into the 5th generation of programmer. (But we are not Australian). School is just a prison to punish you for being a child.

                1. A-nonCoward

                  Re: Nobody tells students nothing

                  good you're hiding.

                  You stole my line...

                  :-) (book published in 1994. Good line. Happy you using it)

              5. VikiAi Silver badge

                Re: Nobody tells students nothing

                I quit the primary education field to return to it. My punishment is hundreds of undergrads a year that have not 'just picked it up'!

                Very few people 'just pick up' written literacy, why do we think the operation of a VERY complicated machine would be different? (Okay, that was retorical, I know really: decades of IT marketoids waxing lyrical about how easy their UI is - protip: GUIs are often useful, but they are not a replacement for learning what one is doing!)

                1. VikiAi Silver badge
                  Meh

                  Re: Nobody tells students nothing

                  *return to it = return to IT.

                  Was on my phone.

              6. Richocet

                Re: Nobody tells students nothing

                The current thinking is that children were born knowing IT from year 2000 onward. Or in short: digital natives.

                I have a term for anyone who tells me that: "digital naives"

              7. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Nobody tells students nothing

                the aussie Government website outlining the school curriculum is calling you a liar.

                https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/learning-areas/

                1. Kiwi Silver badge
                  Pint

                  Re: Nobody tells students nothing

                  You could've warned us about the 4+MB of images per page, or the extreme marketese that page is written in! :)

            2. Deimos

              Re: A very traditional story @Nick Kew

              I recovered one from a dog processed memory stick, a compressed data file with the users only photos of their deceased parents. Stinky but possible, needed two days work but I think it paid some of my karmic debt.

              1. Kiwi Silver badge

                Re: A very traditional story @Nick Kew

                I recovered one from a dog processed memory stick, a compressed data file with the users only photos of their deceased parents. Stinky but possible, needed two days work but I think it paid some of my karmic debt.

                So lucky! I would've given anything for that outcome.

                I had the opposite answer. "Sorry, we cannot recover from this".

                It's heartbreaking to tell a mother that those pictures are gone.

            3. ChrisBedford

              Re: A very traditional story @Nick Kew

              I have recovered several that have been through a washing machine. Has anyone here not dealt with coffee or tea immersion? I even managed to have one of my own come into several pieces but still worked long enough to get stuff off.

              Sadly the same can not be said of superglue exposure.

              Back when USB sticks were new (and small! 32 MB was hugely expensive and as big as they got!) I managed to break one because, well, it was physically huge and stuck out so far that... yeah, so anyway the case popped apart but it still worked just fine.

              After a few days of struggling I got tired of putting the thing back together only to have it fall to pieces again some minutes later, so I applied one or two drops of Alpha Cyanoacrylate and it promptly stopped working altogether. Stayed in one piece beautifully though.

            4. Jakester

              Re: A very traditional story @Nick Kew

              I had the connector of an USB thumb drive break off in a computer. I didn't realize it until I was going to use on another computer. Didn't attempt to get data from the drive as all the files I had on it were also stored on my Google drive and home server (as well as on the server backups).

        2. phuzz Silver badge

          I've had several USB sticks work just fine after a trip through the washing machine.

          The heat of the tumble dryer did melt the casing of one, but the drive itself still worked (and is still in use as log storage on a router, sans case).

          1. TotallyInfo

            Equally, I've had many that simply stopped working or, more likely, just corrupted every file.

            I learned long ago that memory sticks were no more reliable than floppy disks.

            1. Kiwi Silver badge

              I've had no problems with sticks since around 2013 or 14, and I don't exactly look for "premium" brands.

              That said, I do treat them as larger versions of write-once DVDs, so if they last more than a few writes that's find. I can't recall when I last lost data on one though.

              (Also trying to recall where several are, obviously loaned out to others somewhere).

          2. Stevie Silver badge

            I've had several USB sticks work just fine after a trip through the washing machine.

            How many have you had survive the trip through a dog?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              I've now heard of a few "dog processed" survivals, but none of a cat.

              Anyone?

              :)

              1. Cederic Bronze badge

                Cats aren't stupid enough to eat one.

                Mine don't even eat rodents, they'd rather leave them were my feet go when I get out of bed in the morning.

                1. VikiAi Silver badge

                  That is how cats teach their young what to hunt. Your cat considers you a bit slow on the uptake!

                2. DCdave
                  Joke

                  @Cederic You should switch from a mouse to a touchpad!

          3. elgarak1

            I have those, too.

            But I also had ones that stopped working just using them. No washing machine required.

          4. VikiAi Silver badge

            I sun-dried a washed one on the window sill for a few days before plugging it in. Still works 2 years later (file transport - nothing not duplicated somewhere secure).

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "It's also annoying that 2 days later her parents contacted the school complaining that 'we'd' lost her data and refused to help her get it back"

          Does the school emphasis - from the start - that multiple copies must be saved? It would be good practice to run spot checeks with students; "How many save copies do you have? When did you last save one?".

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            These days, in my retirement, I invigilate exams.

            And a lot of kids use PCs.

            And we tell them at the start, before the exam clock starts to save using a header with their name and subject. And keep saving. And I have signs up saying KEEP SAVING . And then I spend the next 2 or 3 hours checking and reminding. And some of the kids still don't fucking save their precious work.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              "And some of the kids still don't fucking save their precious work."

              In which case, if they fail the exam, it would be a perfectly valid result. The one thing the British education teaches is how to pass tackle exams.

            2. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge
              Pirate

              An exam is a test of intelligence, memory, knowledge and of course the ability to follow instructions. It is, basically, a filter to separate those who can from those who can't.

              If the poor wee mites cannot follow simple instructions and fail the exam as a result of this, then the exam is working as designed.

              1. Kiwi Silver badge
                Pint

                If the poor wee mites cannot follow simple instructions and fail the exam as a result of this, then the exam is working as designed.

                So a dyslexic person who can perfectly strip and rebuild a car should never be able to pass an automotive exam because they cannot write their name at the top?

                Good to know. Just because they can do everything else right, if they miss something irrelevant on an unrelated field they shouldn't be allowed to be employable, no matter how great they are!

                </sarc></rant>

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Oh so many cases of that did I see in 4 years working in 6th form college. Otherwise intelligent students displaying absolute ignorance of how their work is saved. Didn't help the teachers reinforced the use of USB sticks and IT Management were stingy with storage limits, failing to realise the world had moved on since they were students and it could all fit in 200Mb quota.

          1. why you delete my account?

            200M quota as a student !? Pampered johnny-come-latelys.

            Back in my day it was 2 Meg, 4 if you were very lucky and asked very very nicely. And don't even think about asking the BOFHs for more than 4...

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              But that was before schools developed an odd love of PowerPoint presentations containing the required at least one image per slide and occasional video clips. My teachers never seemed to accept that my talking about the topic would be a completely fine presentation, especially when I was going to say all the stuff I wrote on that slide plus extra information. And having a short piece of text to read while I said it out loud wasn't good enough; I had to provide a picture for each topic. Usually, that meant typing the topic into Google images, selecting one that kind of sort of worked, and slapping it on so nobody would actually look at it. Those files were somewhat large, and after you've done a few, you could easily run into a storage quota were the school to impose one (when I was there, you had no quota because you also had no storage--you were responsible for creating the presentation on some machine and getting it from that machine onto the one that ran the projector).

              1. ArrZarr Silver badge
                Devil

                Rule #1 of a good presentation: Don't read from the slide

                Rule #1 of showing your working for marks: Write everything you were going to say on the slide

                Although one of my teachers was a bit nonplussed when I spent the whole presentation imitating his teaching style & accent (ignoring Rule #1 of a good presentation at the time)

                1. Baldrickk Silver badge

                  I recommend the notes section for what you are going to say - it doesn't show on the screen, but you can point your teachers at it.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              100k on the new shiny fixed (as opposed to exchangeable disk packs) disk. They were 24 bit words so worth 300 to 400k bytes.

            3. Roland6 Silver badge

              200M quota as a student !? Pampered johnny-come-latelys.

              Back in my day it was 2 Meg

              Back in my day, you had batch, the only constraint was the amount of computing resource you could get allocated to your job...

              1. Tom 7 Silver badge

                2 Meg?

                We had unlimited storage! However you could never carry more than 4 or 500 punched cards at a time.

            4. dajames Silver badge

              200M quota as a student !? Pampered johnny-come-latelys.

              Indeed ... we had 200 "blocks", where a block was ... I forget. half a k of 24-bit words?

            5. Kiwi Silver badge

              200M quota as a student !? Pampered johnny-come-latelys.

              Back in my day it was 2 Meg, 4 if you were very lucky and asked very very nicely. And don't even think about asking the BOFHs for more than 4...

              I recall being hauled off to a meeting with the network admins as well as some of the upper heirachy (and also got to meet the student union people as I needed representation) for my crimes.

              A fellow student was struggling with a certain concept so I emailed him a simple (IIRC about 100KB) Venn Diagram to show it to him. He was very grateful.

              Ok, the real issue was that I emailed him from OUTSIDE of their internal system, from my home computer, when I didn't even have internet access (a Fido->email gateway, figured out from a teacher's email what the addresses were then just sent to <studentID>@tech.institute - had also been email stuff to myself - they didn't like that someone figured out their security was so obscure that it was non-existent.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I've also seen a few of these over the years.

        We ran a server, which was explicitly only for backups of work, but had a few people save their only copies of stuff to it, which was fine until multiple disks in a RAID 5 array died simultaneously...

        The worst was someone contacting me to ask whether I could help with a hard disk problem. They were due to finish their PhD in a few weeks, and had _everything_ stored on the hard disk in the PC that they'd been using for the last three years or so. No backups, no copies of the original data or anything. They'd arrived one morning to find that the PC had stopped working overnight and nothing they could do could coax anything useful out of the disk. Luckily after a week of work on the drive, I did manage to recover the majority of their work.

        1. Tomato Krill

          Soooooo. What you're saying is that their strategy worked?

      4. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Ah floppies. I once wrote some of my honours thesis* then ejected and pocketed the disk in my lab coat and went and demonstrated a lab. When I returned the disk was corrupt. But, i had a backup.

        During my PhD I had three sets of floppies in plastic boxes. One working copy, one backup copy which went home with me and one which sat at home and came in once a week for updating. So even if work and home were demolished in an earthquake (this was NZ, possible) while I was cycling home I would still have a copy to fire up, somewhere.

        *We were the first year to get to write ours on computer. Original Macs, we weren't allowed to use the departmental LISA. My PhD thesis broke new ground: double sided printing and colour laser printed photos, even the grayscale electron micrographs. The machine was huge and sat in the basement of the Registry building. They even let me drive it when they had to go off to a meeting. The cost saving in special A4 photo paper was huge. My honours thesis had photos stuck on paper and labelled with Letraset. So were the PhD originals (I still have them) but then copied and printed.

        1. Richocet

          I suspect I may have attended the same university as you.

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Windows

      Bloody youngsters. When I were at school there was no such thing as a taskbar.

      1. Paul Shirley

        When I was at school saving meant inserting or replacing punched cards in their stack... or filing printed output ;)

        Near the end it meant saving to audio cassette at least twice, preferably on different tapes. And praying.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Mmmm, that were nowt. When I were a young lad I had to be careful not to break the slates, slates don't defrag well.

          1. Nick Kew Silver badge
            Coffee/keyboard

            Slates? Luxury! We 'ad to do our 'omework on the back of our 'and, then 'and it in.

            1. Aussie Doc
              Headmaster

              You 'ad 'ands?

              Bloody lucky.

      2. macjules Silver badge

        Bloody juveniles. When I was at school, defragging was what you did with a pencil in a pencil sharpener.

        Mind you, using the subject user experience I bet in those days there was always an idiot who would try and sharpen a Bic biro.

        1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

          A Bic biro? You were lucky.

          We 'ad to go outside, climb t'tree, catch a bird, pull out t'feathers, and sharpen 'em.

          Then we 'ad to go to t'seaside, catch a squid, extract t'ink sac...

          1. Nick Kew Silver badge
            Coffee/keyboard

            You 'ad trees, birds, and seaside? Luxury! We just 'ad grime on skin.

            1. Aussie Doc
              Pint

              You 'ad skin?

          2. Montreal Sean

            @Kubla Can't

            You sharpened the featherless birds?

            How did you get them to fit into the sharpener?

            And do they go in beak or feet first?

      3. N2 Silver badge

        'Taskbar' = That was the cane when I was at school

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Alert

          Chalkboard erasers. Thrown by the master, at great speed and with unerring accuracy, at the inattentive student.

          Couldn't get away with that now, I suppose, but it did work wonders to stop daydreaming

          1. M. Poolman

            Chalkboard erasers.

            Yep, really did used to happen, good old days...

            1. OssianScotland Silver badge

              Re: Chalkboard erasers.

              I had an English teacher who was a dab hand at skimming books across the class. We used to call them his Flying Chaucers.

          2. John Robson Silver badge

            Teacher got very cross when I caught it and threw it back with equal vigour.

            They had no defense though - it was recent enough that throwing the wooden board eraser at me was not an acceptable thing to have done in the first place.

            Can't recall what my misdemeanour to start it all off was...

          3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

            I deserved it.

            (and they were the soft-backed kind)

          4. Vincent Ballard
            Coat

            I remember one biology teacher claiming that the big gaps in the leaves of the Monstera plants at the back of the classroom were due to the times he'd missed when throwing a board rubber at a pupil.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              I once had my hand slapped with a ruler in 4th grade (and it wasn't even a nun) - that was 1960's "error correcting code"

              I also made it all the way through grad school storing all my work on a 5.25" floppy disk (thinking about it now it terrifies me that I didn't invest another buck or two for some redundancy)

              And having been in the computer business for 25 years, I fully accept that I D 1 0 T errors, and (now) people falling for fake tech support calls for the 3rd time (that they admit to us after we have cleaned their systems twice before, sigh) will never go away - it's maddening but it's job security.

          5. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            You used boards made out of chalk? Luxury! Ours were wood painted black.

          6. katrinab Silver badge
            Alert

            And back then, the racist teachers called them “blackboards”.

            1. Southernboy

              I reefuse to call them chalkboards.

              They are boards. They are black. They.are blackboards.

              Just like whiteboards are white.

              1. terrythetech

                "They are boards. They are black. They.are blackboards."

                except the the ones that are green

                1. Southernboy

                  They're still blackboards

          7. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Chalk missiles

            We had one Technical Drawing teacher who was a crack shot with a piece of chalk. He would be writing on the blackboard and watching the class in the reflection in his spectacles (which were large tortoiseshell horn rimmed ones). If he saw one of us talking or otherwise not paying attention, he would whip round and throw the chalk with extreme velocity and uncanny accuracy, it usually hit the culprit on or about the forehead, unless they were looking off to the side, in which case it struck them in the ear. If you were lucky, it would only be a stub end of chalk, but if it was a fairly new stick, it could raise quite a welt. One day I was idly plucking at the cables on the drawing board, and noticed that I could alter the pitch of the note by squeezing upward on the left hand cable whilst plucking the right hand one (they crossed over at the top of the board to maintain a parallel action). I started to play "When the Saints come marching in", and he looked around because he couldn't identify who was making the sound. He demanded "Who's twanging?" and started walking down my side of the classroom. Someone on the other side of the room picked up the tune without missing a beat. I stopped twanging, and H suddenly realised that the source was on the opposite side of the room, so he diverted in that direction. We had him wandering back and forth across the room several times, getting more and more irate, until eventually he said "If whoever it is doesn't stop twanging immediately, the whole class will get a detention". We stopped, and peace was restored.

            I was born left handed, but at Junior School, we had a sadistic teacher, who I could name but won't, even though he would be long dead now. If he saw me (or anyone else) writing left handed, he would give me (or them) several sharp whacks across the left palm with the flat of a 12" wooden ruler, saying "You write with your right hand, it's why it's called your right hand". I got my own back on him, though, just before my 11 plus exam, I broke my right arm (greenstick fracture), and had to sit the exam with my right arm in a plaster cast from palm to above the elbow. I was given extra time to take the exam as I was forced to write left handed, much to his annoyance. He was suspended once, because he had accidentally hit a pupil's hand with the edge of the ruler, breaking a couple of knuckles.

            1. Tom 7 Silver badge

              Re: Chalk missiles

              My grandma was left handed. She wrote an almost perfect copperplate with her right hand. The back of her left hand was seriously scarred and mangled from accidentally picking up the pen with it and the resulting ruler damage.

            2. Chris 239

              Re: Chalk missiles

              My step dad was left handed and got forced to write right hand at school (by the sadistic means mentied here I expect) and the surprising result : not only was that he was able to write well with both hands but could write mirror wrting with either hand just as well.

              Generally he chose to write right handed because writing with the left hand can casue issues smudging what you are writing when your hand slides on the paper.

              Sometimes he would write mirror writing just to confuse people!

              1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                Re: Chalk missiles

                I'm genuinely ambidextrous. Which doesn't just mean writing with both hands because I can't. I was forced to write with my right and it's a hard habit to break.

                But it also doesn't mean always being able to use either hand for anything, though I find it pretty easy to switch.

                Some jobs seem better right handed and some left. And some tasks seem to depend on circumstances. I seem to shave right handed, most often. And this I think is because the mirror is to the right of the sink. About 15 years ago we had a new bathroom and the change seemed to follow that,

                I'll tend to do fine movements LH and strength movements RH I think. I'm more likely to throw RH and pick things up LH I think. But tbh I'm not sure until I try. I don't think I've thought about it much. Watch goes on right wrist. It just doesn't feel good on the left side.

          8. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            At my school (some three decades ago) we had a French teacher would put an errant pupil in the corner with an empty waste bin on his head, THEN at some random time throw the blackboard eraser at the bin.

            There's an element of psychological warfare here and you DEFINITELY wouldn't get away with it today.

          9. Tom 7 Silver badge

            One of my classmates had pissed about in the gym and managed to unhook one of the climbing ropes - the metal top dropped on his head and split it wide open. About a week later the nicest sweetest teacher in the school lost his temper for the first and possibly only time in his career and hurled the board duster at the pissed about in the gym lad who had broken him and it grazed the top of his head and a fountain of blood erupted from the wound.

            How we laughed! God we were bastards!

          10. Muscleguy Silver badge

            At university we had 3rd year Physiology lectures in one of the Anatomy lecture theatres which had huge long wooden pointers for the rolling diagrams. Ted would use this to reach several rows back and THWACK the desk in front of you and ask a question. Physiology was always 08:30 lectures so people needed waking up.

            I figured out if you knew the answers he stopped bothering you. Some people were mortally afraid of being chosen. The next year, honours, we got inducted into the department common room and Ted became Uncle Ted and a lovely supportive guy.

            RIP Ted, gone to anaesthetise some angels.

          11. Ribfeast

            Our teacher used to have "throwing chalk" which was around an inch thick. You didn't want to be on the receiving end.

            We'd also get the handle of the feather duster across our palms or bums too.

        2. macjules Silver badge

          Cane? Cane? We used to lie awake dreaming of being hit with canes. You lucky, lucky bastard.

      4. cookieMonster

        Hmmmmmm

        When I was at school there was an Apple II C ( one of them). I wrote a scheduling app for it to organise class schedules, it was replaced in 2014 at a cost of over €5000. I wrote the app in 1985, for the fun of it.

      5. Dave559

        When I were at school, there were no such things as computers at school.

        (And that was the 80s, the school system was a bit slow to catch on...)

    3. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Lets step back a bit

      I recently went through this with my daughter who is 9.

      But if we take a step back - isn't it a reasonable request?

      Part of good UX is about making things "just work"

      Especially for Office when the autosave doesn't kick in until you do just 1 manual save.

      There is nothing stopping MS programming Word to save to some default name and location immediately when a new doc is created.

      Whilst the user in this story doesn't really have an excuse as presumably they were an existing Word user - I dont think MS do either.

      1. storner
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Lets step back a bit

        I'm with you on that one - it is one of my favourite features of Notepad++ that you can open a new file, and it will automagically be saved somewhere in the bowels of the programs filespace until you do give it a proper filename yourself.

        Now, where was that configuration file template - "New file 283" or 316 ...

        --> Paris 'cause she never thinks about saving, only spending.

        1. Mr Humbug

          Ah, but Word does do that - and has done for a while.

          When you go to open a file, in teh Recent files section there is a button called 'Recover unsaved documents' which takes you to %localappdata%\Microsoft\Office\UnsavedFiles which is where Word autosaves a file until you give it a proper name (they're ASD files, not docx).

          It doesn't throw the unsaved file back in your face like Notepad++ does, and I' not sure how long it will keep the files there, but it does at least give you a short opportunity to change your mind about not saving.

          1. Killfalcon Silver badge

            It does, however, delete the autosave if you close word and specifically tell it you don't want to save your files, which the user in today's tale did.

            It's very useful if you crash the whole program/machine, mind.

            1. Mr Humbug

              It does that if the file was already saved and you tell it you don't want to save changes, but if you create a new file, do something in it then close and say you don't want to save, Word will keep it in the Unsaved documents folder. I tried it earlier and the file is still tehre at the moment.

              1. Killfalcon Silver badge

                It didn't for me right now - might be version dependent or something.

                For a company so good at backwards compatibility, Microsoft are surprisingly bad at consistency.

                1. Mr Humbug

                  It might be the configuration - not sure whether I've changed the default (you saying it doesn't work for you made me look to see if there was an option). If you look in

                  File, Options, Save

                  there is 'Keep the last AutoRecovered version if I close without saving',

                  which is enabled in mine

                  1. keith_w

                    And this appears to be the default, as it is also set in mine and I haven't set it.

                2. Teiwaz Silver badge

                  For a company so good at backwards compatibility, Microsoft are surprisingly bad at consistency.

                  Not that good at backwards compatibility. As any person dealing with business vs IT on different Office versions over the years can attest.

                  No, not having managed to muck up Win32 API does not count as being good at backwards compatibility.

                  1. Killfalcon Silver badge

                    Eh, that's fair, I overstated. I was mostly thinking of how current Office versions will open Office files back to the mid 90s. And save in most of them, too...

                    1. Simon Reed
                      Unhappy

                      Except PowerPoint. That is hopeless at saving between versions.

            2. Tom 7 Silver badge

              If "I" crash the whole program/machine mind???

          2. Stevie Silver badge

            Oh dear, you will be downvoted on this advice because it shows that MS does in fact own some brains and even some of the technically astute users of their stuff don't.

            You should see how unpopular I was when I told someone complaining about the "mess" MS Word makes of generating a web-page form a doc that there was a simple switch you could flip to stop all the inline styles that were making his head come off and orbit the room.

            RTFM is the byword here, unless it is a MSFM, in which case the software should be all things to all people right out of the shrinkwrap.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              "RTFM"

              Manual? There are still manuals?

              1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                These days they're online of course. And in a database format so that you can't just work through it. And IT NEVER FUCKING TELLS YOU ABOUT THE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW!

                1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                  As program functionality grows - and the UI to match - it'd take so long to RTFM that by the time you'd finished the next release would be out & time to start again.

                  1. Tom 7 Silver badge

                    Ah - so you've found the Open Office documentation then!

                  2. dajames Silver badge

                    As program functionality grows - and the UI to match - it'd take so long to RTFM that by the time you'd finished the next release would be out & time to start again.

                    Not at all. Reading a mostly-familiar manual takes very little time.

                    If you'd written WTFM you might have had a point, but the software and the manual should be released at the same time, and while the manual was being written there would be time for that other old chestnut -- testing. Yeah, whatever happened to that?

                    I am fully in favour of requiring all software to be fully documented, and for work on any new features for a future version to be forbidden until after the current version and its manuals are finished and released.

                    A statutory requirement to produce accurate and up-to-date documentation might put an end to the gratuitous UI changes between versions that mar so much commercial software today.

      2. TotallyInfo

        Re: Lets step back a bit

        Autosave is its own nightmare UX actually. We are getting so many accidental changes in files because autosave has saved something that the user was only playing with, especially when the user isn't the author.

        The only real reason autosave is there is because Microsoft couldn't work out how to do collaborative editing seamlessly. You only get updates after a save - hence having autosave turned on by default otherwise more people would realise just how broken the collaborative editing actual is.

        1. BrownishMonstr

          Re: Lets step back a bit

          I'm pretty sure you can view previous versions, at least with O365 personal.

        2. Muscleguy Silver badge

          Re: Lets step back a bit

          "The only real reason autosave is there is because Microsoft couldn't work out how to do collaborative editing seamlessly. You only get updates after a save - hence having autosave turned on by default otherwise more people would realise just how broken the collaborative editing actual is."

          It's still better than everyone sitting in the lab head's office VERY SLOWLY writing a paper together. The lab head being the only one with the computer. Wastes lots of people's time. Mine because I'm the embryology specialist and the cell biology stuff is not my bag and vice versa.

          I've made it work with the youngest proofreading her thesis chapters with her on Word and me on Libre Office. Took some trialling though to get the changes to save.

      3. tip pc Bronze badge

        Re: Lets step back a bit

        Just like google docs and apples offering does. Saved by default, you have to actually delete your docs you didn’t want to start with.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Lets step back a bit

          Saving is just an artifact of when disk space was slow scarce and expensive and we had to swap floppies to save the document.

          A lot of the stuff that is "totally obvious" about computers in the era of the Apple II or IBM PC needs to change when we have RAM 1000x larger than the original PC hard drives, we have NVMe drives almost as fast as ram, laptops that are never really off and permanent internet connections

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: Lets step back a bit

            Not really. Disk is still slow, scarce and expensive.

            128MB and even 64GB are very common system drives, and worse, SSD and NVME wear out.

            The fastest NVME is around 16GB/s. DDR3 starts around 20GB/s (or 40 if 4-channel), DDR4 around 30 (or 60)GB/s and goes up.

            Aside from that, modern file formats are compressed and hashed. Eg docx is a zipped set of XML, binary blobs and resource files - which means saving a single-character change potentially affects the entire file-on-disk, and might make it considerably larger.

            So continual saving means a new file format designed for that. And the files also have to be completely hidden from the user because they'd definitely break it if they were to touch them.

            All that aside, if you save every time the user opened (eg Word) typed one glyph and then closed, you run into problems quite quickly.

            First, the disk fills up. This takes a few months, but it happens.

            Second, it's filled up in a hidden place that the user is intentionally prevented from seeing because if they could see it, they'd break it. So the user cannot make space.

            Third, the user cannot find any of these documents anyway, because they don't have meaningful names. Searching only helps if the contents are reasonably unique.

            Google Docs avoids that because the users have no possible way to even get close to the actual datafiles, and nothing bad can happen if they fill the quota - at worst, the user has to pay Google more. The horror!

            MS doesn't because it's Sharepoint, so the users can fold spindle and mutilate the files, if Sharepoint doesn't get them first.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Lets step back a bit

              "So continual saving means a new file format designed for that."

              ODF formats have "flat" versions, i.e. not zipped and compressed. I thought that maybe they were intended for use with versioning systems built on diffs - SCCS, git and anything in between - which would overcome this. But no, elements are sequence numbered and a small change near the start causes the rest of the elements to be renumbered when the file is saved. It's no more suited to that than MS Office formats.

              Clearly it would be possible for a file format intended to be saved economically in versions. It would also enable remote saving by means of a proper client server protocol instead of relying on emulation of a file system, something that would help protect against ransomware.

              Perhaps it's time to start thinking of a new, open format based on these lines.

            2. Martin an gof Silver badge

              Re: Lets step back a bit

              Kate seems to autosave very regularly, to the file you are editing. My NAS was being very slow recently and typing in Kate was a race against the keyboard buffer.

              On the other hand, I liked ths way my Psions worked. If you closed the thing with a file open, the file was still there next time you opened it. There's an element of this in various Linuxes and OSX with 're-open windows'.

              M.

          2. eionmac

            Re: Lets step back a bit

            **permanent internet connections**.

            Oh! where do you exist? My neighbour has had no internet (or landline phone) for over 4 weeks while ISP 'tries' to sort out his "supplied by ISP router".

            Power cuts? HDD failure?

            1. Muscleguy Silver badge

              Re: Lets step back a bit

              Could be a surge from the lightning storms. The Virgin engineer 18months or so ago fitted fuses in our cables after they lost a variety of customer stuff from strikes.

              We've been lucky despite being up the hill, an old fashioned fluorescent fish tank light went out briefly (the LED one next to it was fine), that was it.

              All the computer stuff is plugged into surge boards to, try, and protect them. I've lost the power supply on an iMac after a power cut, despite switching it off during.

        2. eionmac

          Re: Lets step back a bit

          One reason the 'old folks' i tutor are taught in Google Docs, as at least we have a 'chance' to rescue their efforts.

        3. myootnt

          Re: Lets step back a bit

          I'm about to be immersed in a Google->365 transition as adjunct support. Not looking forward to it. Luckily, we've only had Google for about eight years and most haven't embraced it because their early experiences were poor. I'm probably going to end up being the user ranting and raving about having to initiate document save. 21st century and the cloud, Micro$loth hasn't caught on. UI redesign is a wasted effort, fix the underlying functionality.

    4. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Good god, this brings back memories of people who couldn't understand that their work they were working on was no longer there when they turned the power off. Trying to explain that if they wanted to save their work they had... to.... save.... their work; and if they wanted to continue editing their document in WordStar they had to... actually... tell the computer they wanted to use Wordstar and tell Wordstar what document they wanted to use.

      Some people just couldn't understand that turning their computer on wouldn't result in their previous application running, their previous document loaded, the cursor at the same place, and even with the same chunk of text highlighted for formatting.

      I sometimes wondered if they expected to be able to turn their TV off in the middle of Morse, and turn it on again several days later and Morse would continue from that exact same point.

      1. swm Bronze badge

        I used to use Interlisp at work and if there was a power failure in the building, when power was restored, the computer rebooted, and Interlisp restarted, all of my windows etc. were just where I had l left them.

        Somehow the idea of saving the desktop either automatically or with a "desktop save" command hasn't crossed the minds of the current system developers.

      2. Curt Vile

        Some people just couldn't understand that turning their computer on wouldn't result in their previous application running, their previous document loaded, the cursor at the same place, and even with the same chunk of text highlighted for formatting.

        Doesn't MacOS do this?

        1. trolleybus

          MacOS does, and so does Windows 10. It's bloody annoying.

      3. Terry 6 Silver badge

        That's my dream. Not the TV but the car radio. In the car. Arrive at destination Turn car off, do business, return to car, turn car on, radio resumes from where I left off.

        Technology never lives up to wishes.

    5. swm Bronze badge

      In the late 1960's I saw a user in a teletype attempting to log in. He typed in his user number and waited ... and waited. I pointed out that he had to hit "return" after typing in his user number. This is not stupidity but unfamiliarity with new technology.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "This is not stupidity but unfamiliarity with new technology."

        In the case of the user in the article, given that she was explicitly told, it's stupidity.

    6. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      idiots thought that if a document showed in their taskbar that it was saved

      They weren't idiots. They were users who were mislead by an unclear user interaction model.

      The fault here is squarely with Microsoft, and other adherents of the WIMP desktop metaphor, which wasn't a particularly good idea when it was cooked up at Xerox PARC and is severely dated now.

      Storage is cheap. There is no reason not to save every single thing the user does by default, and make discarding data an explicit action (and even then, with recovery opportunities and a "safe delete" secondary action).

      If memory serves, the Sugar shell for the OLPC did that - everything was automatically saved in the "journal" (so organized by date, by default) and only discarded when storage became short - and then on a least-recently-used basis. That metaphor is much closer to what users new to a particular data-processing environment might expect. It's also how some applications, such as Quicken, have traditionally worked: you enter data, and it's saved. End of story.

      The whole "explicitly save a document" idea is an archaic misfeature, and many usability experts, including some who work for Microsoft, have pointed this out for years.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        That makes sense. I actually prefer to save by a selected file name. But autosaving to a default name format such as date on exit if not previously saved properly does make sense.

  2. chivo243 Silver badge
    Pint

    Google Docs

    Yes, the 1% in regards to who you should share a document with or not! I get dozens of invites to edit a document I have no business seeing, I mention it to the Google Admin, I still get dozens of invites to edit documents I have no business seeing... I've been to his training course, he covers it in detail ~ chalk it up to 1% !

    A pint as I don't have to put out this dumpster fire ;-}

    1. Ryan 7

      Re: Google Docs

      Just start vandalising the documents with large red UNSUBSCRIBE messages.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google Docs

      Just working on a Google to Office 365 migration project because a customer kept finding their internal secure documents searchable on the wider public google search because their users couldn't be arsed (or didn't know how to) set the correct security. This isn't unique apparently....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Google Docs

        How is that going to be different with office365?

        They could have just disabled that sharing option in the google admin centre

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Facepalm

          Re: Google Docs

          How is that going to be different with office365?

          Telling the luser what's right for them doesn't secure the luser as a paying client.

          1. fozzy73

            Re: Google Docs

            Lost a customer of GSuite once because "the Admin interface is too easy, it can't possibly be safe".

        2. ibmalone Silver badge

          Re: Google Docs

          Well, if they don't save it it's more difficult for anyone else to see it by mistake?

      2. Paul

        Re: Google Docs

        a former employer of mine had been using dropbox but as the company grew switched to G drive to save money.

        they couldn't work out how to set permissions, and accidentally exposed a spreadsheet of everybody's salary details. it caused quite an upset for some!

    3. ibmalone Silver badge

      Expectations Re: Google Docs

      It could be down to expectations. If you start a google docs document and start writing it will autosave for you as "untitled document" without any further action. ("This is a document" is enough.) Someone used to that introduced to Office 365 and told "it's in the cloud" might expect it to behave the same. (Or they might check their files have actually been saved, and they might believe you when you tell them they still have to actually save the things, rather than asking their support to change how MS software works...)

  3. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Where will it end?

    This is the problem when you dumb down things - people stop thinking, and seem to eventually lose the ability to think.

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Where will it end?

      Or worse. Think too much. If I ever try'd to fix a car, no one in their right mind would go "the tire is flat, could it be the radiator running out of water that caused it" (who am I kidding... I do know of someone blaming bad fuel on the handbrake going slack).

      But when I offer to help with computers, suddenly *THEY* are the expert, and I'm a "useless teacher because I go too fast"... no, I'm not teaching you how to use this device, I'm sorting it out. After I can show you how to do things... nope, I cannot, because you already decided to ignore everything I said, not listen to the instructions, and form your own conclusions on the best way to do it.

      Oh, I've learnt to just be calm, and not actually care anymore. These people are not losing anything. They still get to watch netflix, but do not get to do those magical things the adverts say they can do. I'm happy with my "devices", and if they are scary and hard to use for them, then *THEY* can spend the hours and hours learning... the entire point they miss every time.

      1. Robert Sneddon

        I can see where you went wrong, step 1

        But when I offer to help with computers

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: I can see where you went wrong, step 1

          You don't usually have to offer to help. Often, someone who knows you know about computers will ask you for help, and then you have to decide whether to agree, simply say no, or try to make up an excuse why you can't. This is made harder when it's your family or friends doing the asking. I can't count the number of times I've been frustrated with my family members doing something where I've suggested to them that maybe I shouldn't be doing their computer repair, but yet I still end up helping when something else has gone wrong, as I still like them as people and they haven't identified another option for getting out of whatever nightmare they're now in.

          For example, I suggested to my parents that maybe they should ask someone else about their computer after they decided, against my advice, to do an in-place upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 without taking a backup, then another in-place downgrade back to Windows 7, again without taking a backup. I recovered their lost files, but I told them the situation was untenable. Before that, I said a similar thing when they were running out of disk space and were trying, fortunately unsuccessfully, to destroy the recovery partition on their hard drive to gain that space (I think it was about four gigabytes) back. My suggestion to run CCleaner which could (and did when I ran it) clear up about thirty gigabytes of windows update files and crash dumps was seen as a stupid idea and why was I suggesting something like that.

          1. Baldrickk Silver badge

            Re: I can see where you went wrong, step 1

            https://xkcd.com/763/

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Where will it end?

      people stop thinking

      Did they ever start?

    3. DJV Silver badge

      Someone made a documentary about that...

      https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387808/

  4. Dave K Silver badge

    I do find it impressive that neither L1 nor L2 asked her to share her screen and demonstrate the problem or even ask the user to give them step-by-step commentary on what she was doing to get to the problem. Basic steps of IT troubleshooting at any level - get the user to replicate the problem if at all possible...

    1. hitmouse

      A manager complained during a software training session last week that she had stopped using this widely used program at her previous job because it didn't work.

      - What went wrong?

      - It didn't work

      - At what point did it break?

      - It broke.

      - Where?

      - it! it! IT! ... (hands thrown in air)

      1. ma1010 Silver badge
        Devil

        You were surprised?

        This is normal behavior for a mangler. After all, she'd no doubt had the mandatory brainectomy. Not to mention the oath to serve Satan and spread misery as far as possible.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: You were surprised?

          This is normal behavior for a mangler.

          I've always believed that to be in manglement, one has to go through an initiation where a hole is drilled into their skull and their brains are sucked out. Some get a spreadsheet put back in but it's usually an obsolete version.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: You were surprised?

            I also have this view of football fans.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: You were surprised?

            "Some get a spreadsheet put back in but it's usually an obsolete version."

            Probably VisiCalc :-)

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: You were surprised?

          "After all, she'd no doubt had the mandatory brainectomy."

          Obligtory Dilbert https://dilbert.com/strip/2019-07-11

    2. Olivier2553 Silver badge

      Do you really think that a user with that level of understanding would be able to share her screen? Or even be able to describe what she sees on a screen without skipping the save warning message because it is not important?

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Do you really think that a user with that level of understanding would be able to share her screen?

        In a properly run I.T. department ,( like the one in my imagination because nobody will give me a promotion ever , so i will never be in charge )

        The techies will be using remote control tools such as Teamviewer , or vnc , or SCCM's remote control thing. The user merely has to click "ok" at the prompt , and if they cant do that that can be overidden.

        oh , the user also to communicate which computer they are on , this will be written on their desktop and start menu in case they cant read an asset tag. And if that fails there will be records in sccm , and a live scanning tool meaning the user only has to know their own name.

        Or even be able to describe what she sees on a screen without skipping the save

        let the user describe whats happening? whaddya crazy?

        My imaginary staff will be drilled into them that that is an absolute last resort, and to remote the machine by default even if the user's initial blatherings suggest that wont be necessary.

        e.g. "I need permission granting the xyz folder"

        a) they wont be communicating which folder correctly

        b) they probably already have permission

        c) they wont know how to get to it when they have perms

        all these additional complications are sorted immediatley with eyes on the screen , resulting in a shorter call time , *and* saving 3 additional calls for the subsequent complications.

        1. DJO Silver badge

          the user only has to know their own name.

          There you go with the unreasonable expectations again - no wonder you never get promoted.

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            we have actually recently developed a system that will interrogate the IP phone to get it to tell us the name of the PC it is sharing a network socket with , so i guess we could even get round that issue :)

            1. Antonius_Prime

              Trust me, they'd find some way to balls that up too...

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                @Antonius_Prime

                My favourite of indirect communication was...

                The medical consultant told his secretary his IT problem.

                She told a colleague.

                After work, the colleague told her boyfriend

                The boyfriend discussed it with a mate in the pub later.

                The mate called us the next day.

                And we fixed it!!!

              2. doublelayer Silver badge

                Caller: What? You thought I called the IT department from my phone? No, I'm using the one from my coworker across the office. Mine's been broken for a month.

                Caller: What do you mean why didn't I report it? Who do I report it to? You? But this is a phone, not a computer. Why couldn't you figure out that my phone was broken? Isn't that your job?

                Caller: No, I'm sure it's broken. Your system must be wrong.

                Caller: No, I didn't hear it ring. It doesn't ring; it's broken. Yes, my computer can access the internet. Well, it could, but it's broken now. That's why I called you in the first place.

                [When an IT person comes to the desk:]

                Tech: You've turned your call and ring volume to silent, and your computer says "installing updates, please wait".

                Other worker: Oh, while you're here, my computer just came up with a message saying IT is remotely controlling it. Is it a virus?

                Tech: No, that's probably a mistake. Did this [indicates original caller] person use your phone just now?

                Other worker: Yes.

                Tech: We thought this was the problematic computer so we logged in to fix it. I'll close that session.

                Other worker: You can remote control my computer? And you don't bother to check that you need to? Why can't you do your job better?

                Tech: [Suppresses rage and makes fastest possible escape]

                1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                  Other worker: You can remote control my computer? And you don't bother to check that you need to? Why can't you do your job better? So, why do I even need to come in every day?

                  FTFY :-)

            2. smudge Silver badge

              we have actually recently developed a system that will interrogate the IP phone to get it to tell us the name of the PC it is sharing a network socket with

              Who else can see the obvious potential problem here? :)

              1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

                ja ja , obviously theres gonna be some sitch's , like they phoning from other office , maybe even because the net sockets dead, or the power socket.

                These are the *only* situations i'd let my imaginary staff visit in person , and even then after a brisk round of "Is the plug socket switched on?" , "are there any lights flashing" etc

        2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          p.s. If you were talking about computers that you dont have enough control over to do the above described remoting (worst case: in peoples houses) then you are in the wrong job. leave!

        3. GlenP Silver badge

          In "my" IT Department we do have remote control software, and it shows who's logged on to the machine. We can access without them having to click anything (it does tell them at the top of the screen that we're on there). It's amazing how much time and trouble that saves.

          1. Nick Kew Silver badge

            $ telnet luser-machine

            [login]

            $ who

            What's changed in just under half a century? Telnet became smoother with rlogin and encrypted with ssh. And I have an idea people have tried all kinds of novel reinventions of that wheel along the way.

        4. Chloe Cresswell

          "meaning the user only has to know their own name"

          Most of my clients use users name as username.

          I get asked "What is my username" and "How do you spell my username" too much to even work out how often it is...

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            I try not to put people through that, especially as there is a high degree of foriegn worker with weird and wacky names, and hence usernames . I'll get username from name , or failing that get the PC's name and see who'se on it .

        5. MrBanana

          But if you're not a dumb user

          The reverse of this is when an experienced user (me) has a very detailed explanation of a problem, and screen sharing is not always a good idea.

          Me: Can you check the host entry for "myexistinghost" in the DNS map as it seems to have been removed, it was working yesterday.

          Support: Can you share the screen with me?

          Me: I could but it would be a bit pointless as you can try contacting "myexistinghost" from your own, or any other machine, that is pointing at that misconfigured nameserver.

          Support: Can you share the screen with me?

          Me: Sigh, OK. Here, watch me type "nslookup myexistinghost".

          Support: Oh I see you are not using Windows therefore we cannot support you.

          Me: It isn't a Windows, or any other client OS issue. It is a networking issue with a misconfigured nameserver. Nothing to do with the operating system I am using.

          Support: Thank you, goodbye.

          1. Ragarath Silver badge

            Re: But if you're not a dumb user

            Let me guess, outsourced support? If that is internal support I'd fire there arses.

          2. jtaylor

            Re: But if you're not a dumb user

            Me: I could but it would be a bit pointless as you can try contacting "myexistinghost" from your own, or any other machine, that is pointing at that misconfigured nameserver.

            Support: Can you share the screen with me?

            I was once able to get past this. Tech said they support only Windows and Mac. I asked if the tech was using Windows (he was.) I asked him to try to ping from his PC (he did.) I observed that the problem had now been verified on Windows, and asked him to open a ticket for the problem and please tell me the case number so I could follow up another day.

            I guess that trick works only once, then they learn to play dumb.

        6. Roland6 Silver badge

          >oh , the user also to communicate which computer they are on , this will be written on their desktop and start menu in case they cant read an asset tag. And if that fails there will be records in sccm , and a live scanning tool meaning the user only has to know their own name.

          Well there is BGinfo which can plaster relevant details on to the desktop's wallpaper.

          Alternatively, assuming you are using MS AD domains, it should be possible to knock up a script that locates the relevant PC given the users (normal) name - assuming they aren't logged in across multiple PCs..

      2. rmason Silver badge

        @Olivernumbers

        The use of the phrases "level 1, level 2 and level 3 imples some sort oif IT dept in place.

        Do you think they've never had to talk a user through getting them connected to a machine? Also unless they're miles away geographically (they're not, the lvl3 dude walked to the user) then this is absolutely a failure of every IT staff member who touched it before the lvl3 guy.

        From a business perspective it's bad too. That is 30-75k of salary walking around the building to fix a training issue on MS word.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          and a failure of various managers who didnt touch it.

        2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Probably L1 and L2 are miles away as that has been outsourced to India about a year ago, L3 is the only one person still in-house for the helpdesk.

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "Do you think they've never had to talk a user through getting them connected to a machine?"

          And failed, which sounds all too likely given the rest of the story.

    3. rmason Silver badge

      This. Terrible 1st and 2nd line support.

      Not one remote session, or even mooch to the desk to have them show the issue, all the way upto 3rd line?

      If that hit my desk i'd have walked a Lv1 there myself.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        If that hit my desk i'd have walked a Lv1 there myself.

        Where I am, that would be a long walk. Lvl1 is close to 500 miles away at the "home" office. I do local Lvl3, but once a month I'm on Lvl2 as we don't have a dedicated Lvl2 team.

    4. Bogbody

      If the user wont listen or co-operate 'cos they KNOW, then any help or suggestions are wasted.

      BTGTTS :-)

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        passing a call upstream (the technical stream) is hardly a solution

        Getting the facts and dealing with carmudgeonaly / irratable / confused / stressed / busy users is the line1 job. ( or the Line1 manager if user going nuclear)

    5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "or even ask the user to give them step-by-step commentary on what she was doing to get to the problem."

      The user's repeatedly making mistakes. Do you really expect to get a reliable commentary?

  5. hitmouse

    In the late 80s I worked for a major UK merchant bank where - as I was preparing to go home on a Friday evening - I was asked to help out with recovering vital financial data from a 5.25" floppy that looked like someone had sat on it while they had keys in their pocket. I beavered away with some Norton tools to bring it back from the edge of doom and transferred it to a new disk.

    Following Friday - I am asked to do the same thing again. Treasurer holds out the same mangled disk ...

    "why did they use this again?" (I was amazed that they were still able to feed it into the disk drive, let alone write to it.)

    "Well they cost five quid each you know..."

    1. Olivier2553 Silver badge

      Tsss, tsss, tsss.

      Such disk recovering task is long, difficult and any single mistake could result in the definite and irrevocable lost of data. Better postpone it until Monday when I am fresh and rested.

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Boffin

      I'm sure you've learned by now, but all such recovery procedures should be destructive. ie once you've recovered stuff from the mangled disk, the mangled disk is no longer usable.

      "Sorry, it was so badly corrupted that I had to resort to a destructive read operation to get the data off it"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        For some reason, faulty cables and damaged USB keys have a tendency to hang around and reappear anyone needs to do something urgently, resulting in TWO urgent requirements.

        On the other hand, cutting the cable in half DOESN'T double the number of problems and smashing a USB key is somewhat therapeutic.

        1. Annihilator

          "cutting the cable in half DOESN'T double the number of problems"

          Depends on the cable and whether you take it away with you. I can imagine you could cut a lan cable in half, and you'd end up with 2 users, trying to use each half.

          1. Justin S.

            It's "Ethernet." Surely that means, if you cut an Ethernet cable in half and plug each end into different computers, the two computers can communicate with each other at any distance, via the ether!

            1. OssianScotland Silver badge

              See today's article on Quantum Entanglement - if they can photograph it, surely they can apply it to Ethernet?

        2. Robert Moore
          Pint

          Having worked at several startups where every penny counted. I discovered that any computer hardware I tried to dispose of would reappear at my desk usually after a few days. Just long enough that I would have forgotten that I had thrown it out. I got in the habit of snapping keyboards over my knee, and stomping computer mice.

          This caused some strange looks over the years.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            I had a colleague ( not in my IT part f the work) who could not bare to see anything thrown out. Anything.

            On our annual clear out we'd have a skip. My rules were; If you couldn't have found it when you needed it* there was no point keeping it and, If in doubt, chuck it out.

            As quickly as I put stuff in the skip she'd be taking it out again. It became a kind of disposal arms race.

            *I'd ask her, "Did you even know we had this?" or "Did you have any ideas where it was?".

            The answer was invariably, "No, but..."

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "cutting the cable in half DOESN'T double the number of problems"

          You have a faulty USB cable. You look for something to cut it with. Now you have two problems.

          And three when you've cut it and then realise it was a working power-only cable.

      2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        "Sorry, it was so badly corrupted that I had to resort to a destructive read operation to get the data off it"

        and "who do I bill my 3 hours work at £100/hour to? That should cure the "these cost a fiver" problem.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I had to recover a 2.5" portable drive that had been dropped (and presumably hit the ground at the exact time power was disconnected) leaving the heads unparked and stuck to the platters, meaning the next time it was powered it just clicked (couldn't move the heads because they weren't floating, couldn't spin the platters because the heads were stuck)

        ended up taking the top cover off and spinning the platters manually (with a t6 screwdriver in the spindle) while applying power and then when it span up quickly copying everything over to a replacement drive (2 files beyond recovery).

        The user wanted to carry on using the original drive even though it had been opened, had failed to read files and had visible scratches on the platters.

        I asked them to confirm that everything (apart from the 2 files) was on the new drive (and also temporarily on a nas box) before surprising the hell out of them by putting a hammer through the old drive while it was still spinning and decased

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Was he a bean counter?

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

        Silly question! Of course he was.

    4. Calum Morrison

      I suffered working with someone who would swap broken kit around. A dead mouse? Swap it to a computer whose user is off today. Network cables? Far too expensive to simply stop using because the tab on the RJ45 connector is snapped off; wedge it in with a bit of hope and bluetac.

      I ended up cutting them in half before binning them as he'd actually remove them from the waste if he saw them there. F*cking idiot.

      1. Baldrickk Silver badge

        Broken tabs on RJ45s? yeah, I have a good few of those in use at home.

        They're fine until you snag the cable, and sometimes even then they still work.

        They do go into my spares pile if I have unbroken ones though.

        1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
          Boffin

          This is why I have an RJ45 crimping tool and a drawer of plugs. Sooner or later I'm going to realise I'm trying to decide whether a 5cm cable is useful.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge
            Joke

            Put a female on the other end

            You always need 5cm extension cables, for some reason.

          2. eionmac

            A 5cm Ethernet cable with working ends is most useful. Long 20 ~30 m Ethernet cable to desk, plugged into computer, laptop so portable, unplugged /plugged in say 4 times per day. snapped end clip. Solution a Ethernet to Ethernet extension plug (3 cm long fixed plastic housing) plugged into LONG cable. Short cable (expendable) plugged into extension plug then into laptop. Replace short cable without under desk/under floor problems on long cable. there are better solutions but I found this one worked.

            1. Baldrickk Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              My RPi sits on top of a switch, a short (20cm) cable is certainly convenient in that case :)

        2. phuzz Silver badge

          At least if the clip is missing then the user can't do what some of mine did to a poor defenceless network switch:

          Ouch!

          Yep, they just pulled on the cables until they came free, bending the metal on the side of the switch. Good thing it was being retired anyway.

    5. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      "Well they cost five quid each you know..."

      "Well, my overtime is 120 quid each time for this you know... And I will make sure my manager bills it to your department."

      Unfortunately, the better solution of applying a clue-by-four is deemed a health hazard (to the bean counter).

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "a health hazard (to the bean counter)"

        No such thing exists.

    6. Nick Kew Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Upvote for the anecdote, but I can really identify with both of you there.

    7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Well they cost five quid each you know..."

      And what's the value of the data on it?

  6. Charles Calthrop

    The user "then questioned how Microsoft could release something that 'blatantly doesn't work'."

    aka every reg commentator ever except that Rooster bloke* from a while back

    *apologies for assuming gender

    1. Dave K Silver badge

      "Hello, I've spoken with Microsoft. They say it is a PEBCAK* problem and is a well known issue"

      *Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: PEBKAC

        Last time I asked Microsoft, they told me it was an aye dee ten tee error.

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Last seen being kidnapped by a squadron of Frogstar Fighters.

  7. OssianScotland Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Computer User (Non Technical)

    I once reported to the Finance Director (who was a complete and total Rodney - see title). One afternoon the phone rang...

    FD: I've been working on this spreadsheet all day and my laptops battery ran out. I need you to get it back.

    Me: Did you save it?

    FD: No. Get it back!

    Me: Didn't you charge your laptop during the day?

    FD: No, I expect the battery to last. Get my spreadsheet BACK!

    Me: If you didn't save it, I'm afraid there isn't any way to get it back.

    (Yes, I might have been able to do something horrible involving temp files, but as I said, he was a complete Rodney)

    FD: I don't care. GET IT BACK!

    For obvious reasons, I no longer work there!

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Computer User (Non Technical)

      FD: I don't care. GET IT BACK!

      "I will get it back for you if you GET ME A TIME MACHINE."

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

      Re: Computer User (Non Technical)

      As it was not saved, we need to use a scanning electron microscope to recover the fragments and then assemble it all bit by bit.

      That will take about 3 months of my time and 2 million pounds for the SEM. Will you sign the purchase order or do I need to go through your manager?

    3. WonkoTheSane Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Computer User (Non Technical)

      "Sorry, my DeLorean's in the shop".

  8. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    I'm halfway through the story. If this turns out that 3 layers of support are needed to establish that the woman isnt clicking "save" then .. my god thats an inept I.T. department and why wont they put me in charge of one cos thats exactly the sort of shit i could stop happening

    (not the user , cant do anything about that , I could train 1st line to be fluent in 'user' , and to never assume any level of competance in the user, at least without prior evidence)

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Facepalm

      I could train 1st line to be fluent in 'user'

      If that training does not include guillotines and AK47's you're facing an uphill battle.

      I had at least one helldesker who managed to turn whatever more or less meaningful problem description they got from the user into total incomprehensible gibberish. "Yesterday file was there, today there is only $otherfilename. Dhr $name know there more from" was the ENTIRE text from one of the more egregious examples. As if knowing the name of a file that was still there would allow me to divine the name of a file the user was missing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I could train 1st line to be fluent in 'user'

        We get sent tickets from someone who's written English* is so bad, sometimes we can't even tell what it is they mean. A recent example was "paper jam to printer", how does someone get the words 'to' and 'in' so mixed up?

        Anon for obvious reasons.

        * To pre-empt the usual crowd, this person is English, and speaks it just fine.

        1. Alien8n Silver badge

          Re: I could train 1st line to be fluent in 'user'

          It's entirely possible they could have a form of dyslexia. Not all dyslexia is crap spelling and an inability to read because letters seem jumbled. There are also forms that result in similar words being substituted when writing. Eg "You can't see the wood for the trees" becomes "You can't see the wood for the forest". Ask them what they wrote and they'll say the first, ask them to read what they wrote and then they'll say "that's not what I wrote". That example also works for some really rare forms where even the spoken language gets mangled, think Spooner.

          1. MrBanana

            Re: I could train 1st line to be fluent in 'user'

            I have something like this. I have to carefully re-read pretty much everything I write as the first draft is likely to contain extra, missing or transposed words. And I see it quite a lot in other (technical) colleagues replies to questions, where they are missing a crucial "not" that would normally alter the sense of the answer to the opposite of what was intended. But from the context of the question, and the phrasing of the answer, you can see the missing "not". I don't know if any AI systems are being trained to do the same.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I could train 1st line to be fluent in 'user'

              i think the missus has it

            2. PaulVD

              Re: I could train 1st line to be fluent in 'user'

              Forget AI - what the world needs is Artificial Users.

          2. Baldrickk Silver badge
            Meh

            Re: I could train 1st line to be fluent in 'user'

            I'm not dyslexic and I do this!

          3. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: I could train 1st line to be fluent in 'user'

            I should probably be more sympathetic because I am dyslexic, but some how it makes me less sympathetic.

        2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: I could train 1st line to be fluent in 'user'

          "paper jam to printer"

          Checkmate in five.

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: I could train 1st line to be fluent in 'user'

          "someone who's written English is so bad"

          Those possessive pronouns are so tricky.

        4. MrMerrymaker Bronze badge

          Re: I could train 1st line to be fluent in 'user'

          "We get sent tickets from someone who's written English* is so bad..."

          Should be Whose. Sorry!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I could train 1st line to be fluent in 'user'

        One that's probably on-point for this discussion:

        https://www.chroniclesofgeorge.com/

        It's quite a bit harder to find than it used to be; it used to be the top result for searching for 'havening' but apparently that's some new-age style bollocks these days.

        Anyway, do enjoy if you've not previously seen it.

        1. Kiwi Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: I could train 1st line to be fluent in 'user'

          https://www.chroniclesofgeorge.com/

          George reminds me of a good friend of mine. A suffer of multiple forms of SpLD, he's battled massive depression, all sorts of abusive behaviour from others, and problems you wouldn't want to wish on your worst enemies.

          He still managed to do OK, at 50 is married, couple of sprogs (one normal one well-adjusted also SpLD), freehold home, good job.

          Probably thanks to him that I had absolutely NO issue reading "George";s stuff. All seemed pretty easy to read (although having spent a bit of time with oldies and general computer users...).

          The writer of that page is quite a bit of a tosser though. Might be some projectionism going on there with the way he responds to some of the tickets. The meaning is clear, takes but a second to grasp what was intended. Only a couple of places I'd have to check one of a couple of possible interpretations.

          Had thought of going to the site's forums to see if others had called the writer out, but realised there was too much chance of others being on the writer's side - no thanks!

          "George" - go and be happy, ignore the others. You'll always be a better person because of how much harder you've worked to get anywhere.

      3. Anne Hunny Mouse
        Facepalm

        Re: I could train 1st line to be fluent in 'user'

        We tell users constantly not to go to us direct and go through the help desk ( lots of things can be fixed by lots of people in our team, it prevents queue jumping, may be on holiday). That way it's logged, more than one one person can pick it from queue

        1st line to user: Sorry, don't no anything about that. I would contact X direct....

  9. Mr F&*king Grumpy

    hang on a moment...

    to be fair, a lot of "Cloud" stuff especially (but not only) on mobile devices _does_ get saved automatically, even when you don't want it too, and I can see why people might make the association "cloud" - "don't need to save anymore". It's a new paradigm thingy! And of course Office 365 is just a collection of variously shaped objects hammered into different shaped holes, with plenty of Marketing lavishly spread over to cover the chasms and glue it together.

    But let's blame the user, eh. After all that's the first thing we reach for in IT.

    1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

      Re: hang on a moment...

      Don't understand the down vote.

      Surely one of the benefits of the "cloud" (apart than tying user into a continual MS subscription from which there is no escape so enriching MS perpetually ) is that the information is safer than your piece of spinning rust because it leverages the larger IT infrastructure

      Google docs, Confluence etc automatically save as you type, meaning that if there is a network outage or PC issue the information is stored. Also there is no reason why multiple versions can not be retained allowing you to roll back to a certain timeline

      What this is basically showing is that Office 365 is just a thin veneer over legacy PC applications hyped by adding "cloud" on the fronyt, but not taking full advantage of the cloud capabilities

      1. antman

        Re: hang on a moment...

        >Don't understand the down vote.

        > ... it leverages the larger IT infrastructure

        You almost got one for using "leverage" but I'm in a good mood today.

        https://dilbert.com/strip/1998-11-26

        1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: hang on a moment...

          Leverage our core competencies in order to holistically administrate exceptional synergy.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: hang on a moment...

            BINGO!

      2. juice Silver badge

        Re: hang on a moment...

        > Google docs, Confluence etc automatically save as you type, meaning that if there is a network outage or PC issue the information is stored.

        This is true - I was going to post something similar about how Google Drive automatically saves any new file you create, even if this does sometimes lead to an ever increasing number of "untitled document" files hanging around.

        But...

        As the article says, the user explicitly ignored the "Are you sure you want to quit without saving" message, and then refused to accept that this was needed. So I think this is a case of a user being deliberately and obnoxiously pig-headed.

        (I'd also question how this user kept their job, given that presumably they've failed to produce anything of value ever since they started using Office 365!)

        Equally, if Office 365 did auto-save, then I strongly suspect this on-call topic would have been about a user who called IT because they couldn't figure out which of their 10,000 untitled documents contained the information they current need...

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: hang on a moment...

          "So I think this is a case of a user being deliberately and obnoxiously pig-headed."

          Deliberateness is optional.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: hang on a moment...

        Exactly this suckers:

        "What this is basically showing is that Office 365 is just a thin veneer over legacy PC applications hyped by adding "cloud" on the fronyt, but not taking full advantage of the cloud capabilities. "

    2. Dave K Silver badge

      Re: hang on a moment...

      >> "to be fair, a lot of "Cloud" stuff especially (but not only) on mobile devices _does_ get saved automatically...

      But let's blame the user, eh. After all that's the first thing we reach for in IT."

      I can understand this to some degree, however the user has to accept blame for seeing a "Do you want to save changes" dialog when closing Word before clicking "Don't Save" on this.

      That's not misunderstanding of cloud, it is basic understanding of the English language. At the very least she should have asked someone "Why does this appear, I thought it saved automatically?"

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: hang on a moment...

        Any one in any circumstances who simply and repeatedly ignores a "do you want to do this sensible and safe thing?" message is responsible. Choosing "no" is a deliberate act.

  10. GtBFilms

    Many, many years ago I was called to a user running Windows 3.11, because she'd been on holiday and all her icons had 'fallen off the screen'. It was a long walk up a lot of stairs to that office, so I made sure I got her to scrabble about under the desk looking for them before showing her how a scrollbar worked.

    The same user also had her screen saver time out set to 1 second; "To prevent the radiation baking my brain".

    I think that horse had already bolted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      YOU got her to look under the desk? Instead of fixing it? Possibly and fruitlessly explaining what really happened?

      Not defending such a bright spark of a user, but in this case you would appear to be part of the problem...

  11. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    The use of a LART is highly recommended in situations like these.

    We need a BOFH icon.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
      Devil

      well, this icons pretty close

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As it is traditional to pick apart these stories

    I don't believe there was ever any user training. It's been close to 20 years since I was involved in an organisation that would include user training with the roll out of new applications/OS and the majority of problems post-rollout came from the users who went on the training courses with the rest of the user population skipping user training because they were busy.

    Maybe a quick e-mail saying "this has changed" or "you're using X now" and if you're lucky a cheat sheet on how to do common tasks, but even these are being replaced by general vendor documentation available online.

    Still....who really needs productivity?

    1. VonDutch

      Re: As it is traditional to pick apart these stories

      I had user training for a new piece of warehouse management software last year.

      It consisted of someone coming in saying "it's a bit like the old software", me pointing out I'd never used the old software (cost per user licence and very low chance of me actually needing it).

      He then promptly clicked through some unintelligible things on screen, declared that to be training and left.

      I didn't have to worry about the poor training though because the implementation of the new software was so bad and buggy that they stopped trying to use it after 2 days. When I left 8 months later they still hadn't got it up and running.

      1. baud Bronze badge

        Re: As it is traditional to pick apart these stories

        It sounds like the software I worked on a few years ago. The software was bad, the team at all level was bad, the leadership, the spec, it was all a shitshow. I was happy that it was only 2 months

    2. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: As it is traditional to pick apart these stories

      The problem is a lack of basic computer literacy like the whole concept of files, folders, saving, applications, desktops, icons and so on.

      In the early days when only experts used PCs, everything had real manuals, but it seems that the more everyone else has to use them and the corresponding need for more manuals, the fewer we get, if any.

      And there seems to be an assumption of basic understanding that users don't have.

      1. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

        Re: As it is traditional to pick apart these stories

        Like the manual for MS-DOS 5.0, about 700 pages.

        https://archive.org/details/microsoftmsdosus00slmi

        Good old days ? In this case yes !

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: As it is traditional to pick apart these stories

      We still have user training for new software, serious upgrades, etc. There's still the 10% (usually manglement) that it never, ever gives them a clue. We always get calls that "this doesn't look like it used to".... sometimes an hour after they walk out of training.

      Icon.... fire is needed for these sorts.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This...

    The user "then questioned how Microsoft could release something that 'blatantly doesn't work'."

    Errr.... But.... Hasn't this been Microsoft's SOP since the days of DOS V1.0?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This...

      "Hasn't this been Microsoft's SOP since the days of DOS V1.0?"

      No, QuickBASIC worked fine. Everything else has been garbage, though.

      1. David Woodhead

        Re: This...

        Ah, QuickBASIC 4.5. I still have the manual and diskettes, just in case. It's all been downhill since then.

        1. Simon Reed

          Re: This...

          Ha, ha! Me too! And, on occasion, I still use it ... through WINE on my Linux machine. It is the only bit of Micro$oft software I still occasionally use.

  14. Fading Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Keyboard short cuts....

    I would have fallen back to my favorite little white lie -"yep new software can be a bit troublesome - if you press "ctrl" and the "s" key it should force the document to save". Keyboard shortcuts are "magic" to the uninitiated.

    1. VonDutch

      Re: Keyboard short cuts....

      Until someone thinks they've mastered the print shortcut but keeps forgetting to hold down ctrl .

      Then saves the template document with lots of random P's in it.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Keyboard short cuts....

        ...or holds down P, and taps Ctrl, and then complains that it has printed with two pages of Ps in it.

        1. Killfalcon Silver badge

          Re: Keyboard short cuts....

          Or, I've seen in one place, some genius writes a macro that remaps ctrl-Q to do some basic reformatting task, and passes it around the department...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stupidity is celebrated

    It just amazes me how people are allowed to actually take pride in how little they know about IT.

    The guy in the article was FAR more patient than me. I would have walked away. Why people think it's ok NOT to know how to use the central tool of their day job and STILL think they are good at their job amazes me.

    If you use word, Excel etc EVERY DAY and still need IT support to help you out on basic issues like saving files, you should be fired!

    Lumberjacks don't go around telling everyone proudly how they have no idea how to fill the petrol in a chain saw. Yet somehow in am office environment people are allowed to know the absolute minimum needed and lots of times, not even that!

    1. rmason Silver badge

      Re: Stupidity is celebrated

      It is the bane of every IT staffer and admin everywhere.

      Sorry I couldn't fix your excel/word/software specific to your department and career issues instantly, I don't use it. You're the one who has sat in front of it for the past 20 years, I use it to fill in my overtime claim form, and that's it.

      Here's what I googled (repeat back the words they said to describe the issue, or the error message that popped up) and the top three links all had the solution.

      It continues to baffle me that certain things are seen as an "IT issue" when it's actually the user refusing to learn how to do their actual job, even in the face of being given repeated training.

      It's fine, in EVERY other department to act like this, when your job for Xyears has been to sit in front of a PC running different versions of the same stuff, with the majority of features retained between versions.

  16. Krassi

    The user is right

    Some version of " you don't save it on your machine anymore, everything is saved in the cloud" is a commonplace explanation. Note "is saved" implying it happens automatically, not " you have to make the effort to save it in the cloud" . My guess is the user correctly heard and understood the training about how wonderful and easy the new cloud setup is, and her only mistake was believing it to be literally true.

    1. rmason Silver badge

      Re: The user is right

      @Krassi

      You'd accept that if it was multiple users, not just the one though. *That* is a person who either didn't listen to, or can't understand instructions and training. They also couldn't ask any other colleague who were all happily saving work.

      Then you've got the 1st and 2nd line guys that didn't catch it.

      Idiots, idiots on all sides of this story.

      1. Krassi
        Happy

        Re: The user is right

        You're spot-on, zeroth-line support from the colleague at the next desk sorts many more problems than IT support ever hear about

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The user is right

          I actually introduce myself to new co-workers as "Tier 0 Tech Support". They laugh, but get the point. Calls to "actual" tech support from our office are rare.

          1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: The user is right

            When I was in local government 15 years ago there was a big push for departmental "IT Champions". I strongly resisted being so titled as I saw that it was exactly Level Zero IT Support.

            I'd do the normal working-with-colleagues stuff, the IT equivalent of telling people you had to push and the rotate the microwave dial, but more than that and it would rapidly become the IT equivalant of Me+OneOther being the only people who ever cleaned the kitchen.

            1. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: The user is right

              That was actually what I did. For about 25 years. And for other teams too.

              But when I started in education there was no IT support. We had to do it ourselves. I used to run training for school heads and deputies on how to save to and copy floppy discs and so on.. (No HDDs then).

              And the so called experts that came along to deliver any new piece of tech were just con men with shiny bits of kit.

              They'd say "Oh yes, this device/programme is easy to use, You won't need training, it's dead straight forward". etc etc.

              No it fucking wasn't. Ever!

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: The user is right

                "Oh yes, this device/programme is easy to use, You won't need training, it's dead straight forward"

                Didn't you treat that as an opportunity for a little harmless amusement?

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: The user is right

      The user might have been right, at least at first and given we assume that the way you described it is actually how it happened. However, there was one specific thing the user saw after which they were entirely wrong: "Do you want to save this document?". At that point, the user had received all the evidence needed to determine that the document was not saved or at least needed some amount of explicit user action. There wasn't even any option for the user taking no action or going with the default. When that question was asked, the user was forced to select an option, and the user looked at the box and consistently selected the wrong one.

      Users have to read screens. If they don't understand what they see, they should ask questions. If a user sees a box that says "Would you like to perform a test of the building's emergency systems by turning off the power and on the fire alarms?", they should not click yes. Their options are clicking no after coming to the conclusion that they really shouldn't be here or leaving the box up and getting help. It's not suddenly fine if they've not seen the box before or thought it certainly couldn't do what it said.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The user is right

      "you don't save it on your machine anymore, everything is saved in the cloud"

      But what did you do to save it on your machine? And why should you do something different just to save in in the cloud? After all, "the cloud" is just somebody else's machine. There's no implication that you do something different. Even if you misunderstood the first time you should be prepared to accept correction from someone whose job is to know.

  17. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

    Poor education

    It is a recurring theme of this column that there is a vast gulf between what users are reasonably expected to know and how little they actually know.

    I thought in these modern times it was the duty of the schools to give people a basic competence in computing, just as is supposed to happen with English and Arithmetic. Er, ...

    Half the population is below average, and about a sixth are more than one standard deviation below average. But the beancounters think it is cheaper to employ the lower half. Which half do you think the beancounters come from?

    1. Paul Cooper

      Re: Poor education

      There's a basic flaw in IT education, at least in the UK, and that's that it isn't really IT education - it's education in using IT to carry out certain limited tasks.

      On another level, it wasn't until I had to work in assembly language that I REALLY understood how computers work; the software I was using (compilers and interpreters) obscured the basics behind what was actually happening. Once I'd got into assembler, I could understand how things like shared common in Fortran could be used in all sorts of interesting ways; before it was black magic.

      1. NetBlackOps

        Re: Poor education

        Back in the '70's, assembler was the second language I learned on the System/370. Fortran was my first which was okay, given my mathematical bent, but that second made it eminently clear what a computer could, and just couldn't, do. C and the rest to follow, as well as explaining CPU's and such to fellow techies, was a piece of cake forever afterward.

        I don't think that'll help with the rest of the population though, no matter how many RasPi's and Learn to Code programs we throw at them. I've even met a frightening few that simply can't put together an ordered list of anything, even including how they start their day from laying in bed to going out the door. Yeesh!

        1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

          Re: Poor education

          @Paul Cooper, @NetBlackOps

          I guess I did not make myself clear. I am not expecting secretaries, civil servants, managers, accountants etc. to understand binary numbers and disk tracks and sectors. But I believe they should be expected to understand how to create, save, copy, or email a document or spreadsheet.

          I realise from these Reg reports that they don't, and I blame the schools. This is indeed what Paul stated: "it's education in using IT to carry out certain limited tasks".

          Equally I do not expect most people to understand the axioms of number theory by Peano, or the formidable reformulations of nouns and verbs that constitute grammar as it is taught today. But I do think they should be expected to read and write words and numbers. Many of them don't, of course.

        2. John R. Macdonald

          Re: Poor education

          @NetBlackOps

          I had a somewhat similar learning experience with COBOL in the late 1960's on a 360/30 with 32K memory. My mentor, who was also an experienced assembler programmer, walked me through the compiler generated assembler listings explaining how and why various COBOL coding techniques affected the final size and speed of the program.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Poor education

        "There's a basic flaw in IT education, at least in the UK, and that's that it isn't really IT education - it's education in using IT to carry out certain limited tasks."

        Yes, this. Basic IT literacy should be treated just like reading and writing at school. It's a vital part of being able to get through the rest of your education and on into the world of work. They need to at least know the basics of how the tools works, how to save their files and more importantly, how to make copies and why.

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Poor education

      Hey, aren't you not allowed to say that half of people are below average, isn't that, erm, antisubsentism or something? Isn't that banned in the New People's Wokeness.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Poor education

        An attempt at humour, I suppose?

    3. 96percentchimp

      Re: Poor education

      Very few people will be above or below average in every skill or basic attribute. You're almost certainly below average at something, it's just something you don't consider to be as important as the thing you're good at.

      But you're right about education.

  18. G.Y.

    G Docs

    I never explicitly saved a Google Docs document yet; they get saved "by magic"

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: G Docs

      > they get saved "by magic"

      There is no such agency called "magic".

      1. Curt Vile

        Re: G Docs

        But there is such a thing as "scare quotes" ;)

      2. The Boojum
        Terminator

        Re: G Docs

        Yes there is. It's advanced technology beyond your understanding.

        1. eionmac

          Re: G Docs

          I though that was spelt "GOD" .

          If you do not understand how it works it is the work of "GOD". (whatever 'god' you substitute is OK, I prefer Ratatosk as messenger.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    lovely "I know better" users

    I've seen many of those, and never had any sympathy with them.

    All the ones I've seen were obnoxiously stubborn idiots which I attempted to help 2 times before declaring them hopeless

    and removing them entirely from my memory.

    FFS, everyone should run when they're in contact with people demanding the universe to adapt to them.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: lovely "I know better" users

      FFS, everyone should run when they're in contact with people demanding the universe to adapt to them.

      It's getting worse instead of better. Have paid attention to the current crop of "entitled" people? They're numbers are growing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: lovely "I know better" users

        "They are numbers are growing" ?

      2. Wayland Bronze badge

        Re: lovely "I know better" users

        Like the people who tag their emails as spam after they read them and then complain when you tell them to check their spam folder for missing emails.

  20. TeeCee Gold badge
    Facepalm

    Did a fix break something?

    I'm sure that Word used to generate Document1, Document2...….Document7984356 every time you started a blank document whether you saved it or not.

    My guess would be that there were too many complaints along the lines of; "Yeees, but which one is it?" and that feature had to go.

    You can't please all of the idiots all of the time...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  21. pseudonymous

    The initial misunderstanding of the user doesn't sound that unreasonable tbh. A magic cure-all is sold to them probably using marketing guff and techno babble; users are not always going to understand all constraints and limitations.

    The long journey through support is not a ringing endorsement of it.

    This sounds more like a failure of tech and trainers, and not a moronic user.

    Expecting the cloud to be fixed is more of a stretch.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      There's an implication (but not an outright explicit statement) that training had been given. If that's so and the other trainees didn't have this problem then one should exonerate the trainers.

      In any case she'd been told that this is the way it's supposed to be used, that it's not an error for Microsoft to fix. If she couldn't accept being corrected by someone whose job it is to know then I think there's a reason to escalate the issue, IT manager to her line manager. Frankly, she needed to be kept away from sharp objects. Am I the only one who can see the dangers if she had access to email? At least she left and became SEP.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Even the "intelligent" can be stupid..

    I used to work on hospital systems and consultants notes were previously written in an old text editor and saved to floppy disks. We wrote a Word based system which could import existing notes either from saved files on a floppy disk or by scanning in and then store in the database.

    First problem was the IT department ordering new PC's with no floppy drives *bangs head on wall* then the real fun started.

    The consultants were all very clever and obviously didn't need to attend training or read documentation, they felt they could easily get by with hearing a few buzz words. Queue a consultant calling up to say that the scanning wasn't working, after a while of monitoring their session and seeing all the write options being used but not seeing any scans I had them talk through the exact physical actions they took. It was when they got to the scanning and instead of the expected "lift the lid and place the document then hit scan" that they said they held the paper up to the monitor and pressed scan *more head banging*.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Even the "intelligent" can be stupid..

      Queueing your consultant would be ideal, as long as you never flush the queue. :)

    2. dajames Silver badge

      Re: Even the "intelligent" can be stupid..

      ... they said they held the paper up to the monitor and pressed scan ...

      Did the monitor have a webcam? That would have made a certain amount of sense (for some small values of "certain").

  23. Kev99

    We have 535 users who ignore one critical fact all the time. They're called Congress.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      And you are forgetting the critical fact ignorer in charge.

    2. OssianScotland Silver badge

      We have 650 of the b*gg*rs, plus <deity> knows how many in the House of Lords. You are (relatively) lucky!

  24. Dabooka Silver badge

    Going through this right now

    Our team are part of the pilot, and bar a few teething troubles is going well.

    Only real problems are trying to get collegaues to understand OneDrive, document sharing, Office 365 having limited functionality (but still being able to access the desktop equivalent), Teams, SharePoint and Skype.

    Apart from that, it's going great.

    I'm so glad I don't work in IT seeing as we are one of the better and keen teams. It'll be stroke inducing when it's rolled out over the summer.

  25. Miss Config
    Holmes

    The 'Three Copies Rule'

    IT professionals should know The Law that

    unless there are three copies of a given file then it does NOT exist

    From reading this On Call thread, the conclusion must be that ALL users, however otherwise 'untechy', should know this from the very start of using a PC.

  26. Lilolefrostback

    She's not entirely wrong

    If you use Microsoft's OneNote (there are some of us who actually like it), it saves everything automagically from the get-go, so it can be done.

    Further, far too many years ago, when I read The Design of Everyday Things (wonderful read, by the way), the author advocated things just like automagic saving from the get-go.

    And even if they don't do automagic saving from the get-go, a better message like "Your work has not been saved. Would you like to save it?" would probably be helpful.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: She's not entirely wrong

      There is one of those. If I recall correctly, its exact wording is "Would you like to save your changes?" if not a new document and "Would you like to save this document" if not saved previously. The user in this story consistently clicked "Don't save".

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    User "English"

    The funny thing about finding some peoples English hard to understand is that the hardest to understand are not people whose first language is not this one.

    The written English that is hardest to understand is from people who write as they speak but they speak in what my (Scottish schoolmarm) mother might have described as "slovenly". Their spelling is poor because their pronunciation is poor. They write "should of" instead of "should have" because that is what they say and "didnt ort" where they mean "didn't ought" and should have said "shouldn't have". The rest of it is out of my head until start of work on Monday!

    I work with people from all around the world. It can be very interesting. People from India and Pakistan tend to write very formally. Germans sometimes have weird sentence construction. do people from the middle east do their own letters? I think their secretaries do many for them even though their spoken English can be better than mine.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: User "English"

      "Germans sometimes have weird sentence construction."

      They probably say the same about the English.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: User "English"

        They probably say the same about the English.

        No, they don't for two reasons. First is that Germans are too polite to say so. The second is that there aren't enough English that have mastered German to a sufficient degree to say anything about it.

  28. quartzz

    one of my old bosses shut his laptop down _every night_ by holding the power button in for 5 seconds, because "powering off took too long". his XP install did still work..somehow

  29. TTY

    (25 years ago) A design student halfway through her training had spent all morning working on a Mac in a teaching lab. Went to lunch. Came back to a class in progress. Wailed about her lost work. "What do you mean I have to Save it? I did it on this Mac and I did not turn it off." The screen saver had powered off the screen, so the next student just flicked the power switch thinking the machine was off.

  30. Binraider666

    You know what,for all we snigger at this story, the user has a point. Training says things save to cloud automatically. Ergo assumption is that it's saved. Makes a lot of sense to me. In fact if you fire up onenote the behaviour of the program isn't too far off that description.

    On a more general note UI design is more convoluted and unclear than it ever has been. I'm not at all surprised the "idiots" of the world are finding things increasingly difficult to use. It's not like the capability of applications has actually improved. CAD is still cad, just faster,spreadsheets are bigger therefore have more errors and word continues to be a dog's breakfast for formatting anything. No wonder I don't find it exciting any more!

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Training says things save to cloud automatically."

      If training said that how come only one user got it wrong?

    2. quartzz

      the sneak peak of the new twitter seems to have all the text next to the icons gone. and no 'hover over' feature.

      also google maps seems to collapse every menu option unless you click it's 'reveal' arrow. no idea why some (older? or other) people find the net confusing..

      but I guess actually having information on-screen would make viewing on a smartphone difficult...

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, what was wrong with the first-line and second-line guys ? Did the job interviews not include an IQ test ? Did the company not give basic training ? Did either even try to save a file to see whether it worked ?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      The issue is not that saving a file didn't work. The issue is that not saving a file didn't work.

      1. keith_w

        Actually, not saving a file did work. It was the user's expectations that were incorrect.

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      So, what was wrong with the first-line and second-line guys ? Did the job interviews not include an IQ test ? Did the company not give basic training ? Did either even try to save a file to see whether it worked ?

      First and second line helpdesk was already outsourced to a minimum bidder in (probably) India.

  32. iwi

    query/amend/submit/repeat

    I remember a couple of decades ago a business user entering many hundreds of monthly company car mileage records into an oracle database. Except instead of keying in a new one each time, he would enter it, then query it, change the reg# and the mileage value, then commit it and repeat. He was very disappointed after a day or two of long tedious effort to find he had keyed in precisely one record. We (IT team) trained the business team who then decided they could train the new starter without using the training materials we had provided them with. Oh, how he laughed!

  33. VikiAi Silver badge

    Had a senior student who thought leaving his assignment on the random laptop I had hooked to the presentation-room projector meant it was submitted (these laptops are regularly lent out to students with full admin rights enabled, and naturally I re-image them regularly, especially a few days before they are to be used to present assessment tasks!) And yes, the actual submission procedure (bring the file to me to be copied to the class USB drive - and backed up to the Uni server, though that is my initiative - is in the assignment requirements document they all get.

  34. timrichardson

    The behaviour the user is expecting is ecactly how Google's Gsuite works. If you create a document, it is always saved. Same wirh gmail: you don't need to take any action to save a draft. We are in a transition about how document saving works. I imagine younger users find MS word quite odd.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cloud

    I've stopped saying that word. People think they don't need security either, until I say "You're putting your files and data, on someone else's server, on the Internet"

  36. hittitezombie

    I can understand from there the user comes. It works perfectly as advertised when you're using Google docs.

    Open a doc, type a letter, and it'll be saved pretty much immediately. In fact there's not a single save button in sight.

  37. Wayland Bronze badge

    Cloudy wording

    If she was told to save her data to One Drive or even to The Cloud then she would have saved her data. She was told data would be saved in The Cloud and then told a load of BS about how amazing that is.

    As long as a user can access their files they are not concerned where they are saved, C: drive, D: drive, Z: drive, OneDrive: all pretty much the same if it's working properly. Making The Cloud into this amazing new innovation that changes everything about the way we work is utter BS when you've just got to save your Word document. That does not change at all.

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