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This is a question IT Support

Our IT support guy has been in the job since 1979, and never misses an opportunity to pick up a mouse and say "Hello computer" into it, Star Trek-style. Tell us your tales from the IT support cupboard, either from within or without.

(, Thu 24 Sep 2009, 12:45)
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Sorry, I honestly am
But I'm one of the special people you seem to have encountered. I have read many of the replies with the mounting feeling of straying into a phrase book for a language that belongs to a land I do not wish to visit.

When I call IT I'd like to think that I'm not going to be treated like a special child that's escaped from the attic.

A computermebob is a tool in the same way a car is. I know how to drive, and I drive well, but when the noisy bit under that cover at the front goes wrong I take it to a man who didn't do well at school and pay him vast amounts of money to make it better. He probably has a message board (or graffiti in a bus shelter) where he discusses how silly I was to need a new HT lead (do they still have them?)

So when I call IT and have one of those prickly conversations where I can tell they are being patronising. I pull them up. Sorry, but just be nice. I am nice when I call. I understand that what I'm about to say has been said many many many times before, I know that I haven't invented new ways to break my "mechanical thinking machine" but tuff, if you had spent more time talking to women instead of sitting in your rooms doing code things then you may have more social graces to deal with the mundane problems of the majority of IT users.

Just wondering what a Doctors version of this QOTW would be... "and then he said, 'but my hearts stopped' and I realised he hadn't plugged in the life support, oh how we laughed"


EDIT; I work for a large multinational that has desktop updates every other week or so. I accept the update and sit back. I got into work a month ago accepted the update, it took 45 mins and I then got on with my day, only to find the mail saying it had been released by error had just encrypted my drives and should have only gone to portable users. They were working on getting it back in the mean time erm... call IT support. See why I'm jaded and confused?
(, Sun 27 Sep 2009, 20:15, 26 replies)
I don't like your assumption that car mechanics are all academic no-hopers.
You need brains to be a mechanic, otherwise people would just fix their cars themselves.
(, Sun 27 Sep 2009, 20:24, closed)
I was trying to make the point that they have far more money than me, have a better standard of living than me, and I have ended up living my life in debt because I thought continuing education was a good idea. Oh and it's a question of aptitudes not inteligence, who said an accademic no hoper is thick?
(, Sun 27 Sep 2009, 20:33, closed)
I would imagine most professions have a smattering of graduates in them, simply because there are a lot of graduates out there. However, I would bet you 11 english pence that the mechanic profession has fewer than average, if any at all.

Academic people tend to stay on, do A-levels, perhaps uni. In the time I spent doing these things, I never heard a single person suggest that they'd like to be a mechanic once their course ended.

EDIT: also, OP - provided you can 'drive' your computer, most IT Support people will be fine with you. We do not expect technical knowledge - but users who can, at least, check the plug sockets before calling us up are very much appreciated.

You would not, afterall, expect your mechanic to teach you how to drive your car.
(, Sun 27 Sep 2009, 20:40, closed)
the problem is the idiots,
it's like any other job really, you get to expect that the next call is from a numpty. I do have friends in IT, infact my ex was a techie (and no this isn't bitterness) there was a horrible us against them attitude from many of her friends, a sort of "our life would be so much better without users" kind of thing. It eventually leaked out into thier jobs. Don't get me wrong I have worked in call centres with the whole of the numpty world calling me. I've served in a cafe where people have asked for an espresso with hot milk, but at least I was polite helpful and gave them just what they wanted.

it's not Mr Happy Phantom a question of learning to drive, it's a question of being patient with the learner and not roaring past them waving a middle finger.

(are you enjoying this motoring analogy as much as me?)
(, Sun 27 Sep 2009, 22:04, closed)
Fair enough...
and of course, there are people who take themselves *far* too seriously - I don't thikn this is restricted to IT.

I look after nine sites. On my own. They're fairly widely-distributed, and it takes me time to travel between them. I always try my best to help, as in general I get along very well with the other staff - but it is extremely annoying to arrive somewhere and find out that they've not followed the basic steps they'd attempt if it were their kettle, or TV that was not functioning. Namely, check the thing has power. It's a waste of time that could have been used helping someone else.

Now, back to the analogy, which I'm determined to stretch until it snaps: I don't imagine a mobile mechanic would be too happy if he turned up to fix a car that 'wouldn't start', only to find the caller waiting patiently outside the car, having not so much as opened the door.
(, Sun 27 Sep 2009, 22:25, closed)
nice use of the analogy
it's about to go ping... anyone fancy driving a car that all of a sudden has its steering wheel and pedals moved because that's what we're doing these days? Or that the mechanic has locked off your access to the wiper speed because too many people have been mucking about with it so you can't be trusted? And all without warning.

I knew it was a good analogy but I never thought it was this good.
(, Sun 27 Sep 2009, 22:41, closed)
If Microsoft made cars...
(, Sun 27 Sep 2009, 23:23, closed)
not so much wiper speed...
But we might glue the water nozzles into a fixed position, to prevent certain ne'erdowells from twizzling them round so they spray water at the car the in the adjacent lane. We do not do this to annoy the people who genuinely want to improve the distribution of water upon the windscreen - that's merely an unfortunate side-effect. However, if you explain your predicament, we'll generally be happy to lend you a tube of solvent (ie, bump you up to local admin).

I drove an automatic the other day. It felt strange. But I persevered, accustomed myself to the new way of doing things, and didn't have to call the mechanic even once...

And more generally, very few of us start our cars with a windy handle these days. Our indicators are now flashy little lights, rather than mechanically-controlled flippers. Airbags have been added to provide a certain amount of cushioning for when the driver makes a mistake; they might deploy accidentally sometimes, but you'll be glad of their presence when you really need them.

In short - improvements have been made to the user interface. Your car is safer, faster, more comfortable, more efficient, and more versatile than those driven by previous generations. It's not a bad thing.

EDIT: also, looking at your signup date, I think we may have shared the same 'newby tuesday'.

Solidarity, bro'...
(, Mon 28 Sep 2009, 2:10, closed)
I'm spent and so's that analogy.

high five for newbeees! Sorry I now feel I've become a 14 year old girl.
(, Tue 29 Sep 2009, 19:15, closed)
I was going to post a rant along these very lines.
Well done you - you've saved me the effort. Though you've taken the place on /all that would rightfully have been mine in the process.

Have a sullen *click*
(, Sun 27 Sep 2009, 21:14, closed)
I'd like to apologise...
But as the rest of the board now want to hurt me in a bad way I didn't take your glory, I took your bullet.
(, Mon 28 Sep 2009, 19:20, closed)
Oh God, ^this
I've now spent the last 8 years working in IT support. I've worked with techies who have the skill to help people out without being condescending and those who seem to spend their entire time making the people they're supposed to be there to help feel stupid.

I'll give you one guess which group gets invited to the pub, gets promoted faster, and gets the better jobs when they move on.

I thought this QotW would be fun at first, but the gems are hidden away in the mountains of the unjustifiably self-important who need to go back and learn the meaning of the word "support".
(, Sun 27 Sep 2009, 21:30, closed)
I try to avoid jargon if I can
But sometimes it's inescapable. One word I don't like using because only cunts use it is "paradigm". But in this case it's an appropriate word. Computers have given rise to a plethora of jargon because so many of the concepts they espouse are brand new, comparatively speaking. The jargon which has risen in their wake isn't solely from a desire by the priesthood to keep the rabble ignorant; it's also there as a convenient shorthand for certain behaviours, perceptions, and actions, both on the part of the computer and the frustrated soul trying to use it. It really is a new paradigm.

I'm one of the priesthood, but I'm not one who believes in keeping my users ignorant as a means of ensuring my own employment, or as a means of demonstrating my intellectual superiority over them. The former wouldn't work (I'm not irreplaceable; no-one is) and the latter is just foolish. Quite the contrary, I want my users to know as much as possible about the mechanical thinking machines on their desks. I want my users to be able to interact with them freely and easily without being frightened of them. Or without pretending to be frightened of them as a means of covering up chronic laziness (but that's another matter entirely). I try to teach whenever I can. Unless absolutely critical, I won't take control of my users' computers; instead I will show them what they can do to sort out whatever issues they're having in the hope that, by actively doing something as opposed to merely watching, they might remember for similar occasions in the future. But I'm not a teacher, and sometimes my attempts at teaching fall flat. Sometimes it's due to my inability to teach, but sometimes it's due to the pigheadedness of the person I'm trying to teach. Although, one of the most rewarding experiences is showing someone how to carry out a particular task, only for that person to extrapolate from what has just been learned and jump ahead without needing to be hand-held the entire way.

What really frustrates me is people's outright refusal to learn. It's not so much an explicit refusal such as, "Oh, it's a computer, I don't need to know about computers; that's your job," as much as a subtle rejection of the whole shebang. It might not be an explicit rejection, but the shying away from learning anything at all about the gizmo is there nonetheless. People have been conditioned remarkably quickly (remember, computers in their current form - a PC on every desk - have only been around 30 years or so; prior to that they were monstrous behemoths kept behind locked doors, away from the unenlightened) to take computers for granted, yet wonder why they become frustrated when the computer doesn't operate in such an easy manner. Paradoxically, it doesn't occur to them that their own knowledge might not be up to par.

I believe two of the biggest problems here are the machines' complexity, and the generally poor user interfaces. Most household appliances are single-function devices. Kettles, toasters, washing machines, radios, televisions, cookers, irons, and the like all perform a single function and, usually, perform it adequately. They're not particularly complex devices, are pretty easy to operate, and pretty easy to fix, too, for someone with a bit of interest and savvy. Computers, on the other hand, are ridiculously complex. We expect them to perform myriad tasks, equally brilliantly, from databases, to spreadsheets, to e-mails, to theses, to web browsing, to illicit filesharing, to games, to, well, you name it. If it involves number crunching in any way, we expect a computer to do it. There are so many heterogeneous components in a computer, both hardware and software, all of which were, at some point, created by a human. A flawed human, one whom, despite best intentions, makes mistakes on occasion. Sometimes those mistakes creep into the computers, in the form of unwanted behaviour, security loopholes, and more. Hell, I'm supposed to be some sort of expert, judging by the job I do, but half the time even I don't know what's going on under the bonnet. The internal combustion engine is simplicity in comparison.

The user interface is not yet at the point of being able to respond immediately not to what we tell it to do, but what we want it to do. DWIM (do what I mean) is one of computing's holy grails, and it will be a very long time before it is achieved. I happen to believe it's possible, just a long way off. Until that time comes, we must learn how the computer behaves, rather than the computer learning how we behave. The people who design the interfaces are getting better at it, but they've a long road ahead of them. And therefore so do we, the users of the things. I'm as much a user as a support technician. I have to learn this stuff, too. The only difference is that I have to learn more of it, at a deeper level, so I can help others.
(, Sun 27 Sep 2009, 21:46, closed)
A beautifully thought out and written response. A little bit of thought goes a long way when you're dealing with people AND machines, and the sooner people on both sides, support and their customers, realise this, the better.
(, Sun 27 Sep 2009, 22:00, closed)
well you got a click from me!
That is exactly the problem. The User-support interface. The idiot loop! One doesn't want to explain and one doesn't want to listen. I do have to say that (in my defense as the OP) I have a working knowledge to the changing oil level. Hell I'm on firefox and I'm a b3tard. So I was over playing a little, but I feel the revolution starts here of users who understand support and support who understand users :-)
(, Sun 27 Sep 2009, 22:21, closed)
There are three
simple things I expect from users, 1: Manners/courtesy, If you dont have any you dont get support. 2: The truth, the error message does NOT say "it wont work", tell me what it DOES say, and 3: if I have tought you how to do something 3 or more times and you still forget, write it down!! Stick to these guidelines and I will be calm, friendly and may even share a joke with you :)
(, Tue 29 Sep 2009, 16:34, closed)
Don't be sorry...
I agree wholeheartedly with what you're saying. We're all here to do a job and the last thing you need when you're in the middle of something important and your PC goes 'amiss' with no discernible reason as to why (frozen for some reason; not because it isn't plugged in), is to have your entreaty of 'Rob, there's something wrong with my computer' responded to with the condescending, toneless-yet-scornful reply of 'There's-something-wrong-with-your-computer'. Cutter, cutter, unt.
(, Mon 28 Sep 2009, 10:52, closed)
More time spent talking to women...?
You've got a lovely little pre-formed opinion of everyone in my profession, don't you?

I'm sure the mechanics love you too... "take it to a man who didn't do well at school". Nice.

(, Mon 28 Sep 2009, 12:19, closed)
you see....
and here's me thinking techies can't take a joke :-) I was wrong, so very wrong, next you'll be telling me that you can't name all the episodes of StarTrek, or that you didn't download your last Girlfriend.

What's the world coming to when one of the knuckle scraping users who thinks the dvd tray is a handy cup holder (pre-formed opinion held by everyone in your profession (see all other posts)) turns round and says that they are not a user but a free man! There's a cult tv reference you may get.

(, Mon 28 Sep 2009, 13:28, closed)
He also thinks we're all male.

Those of us who work in IT are shouted at from morning to noon until night. We are the scum of the office, we aren't invited out the the pub, nobody wants to be our friend simply because of our career choice. We're the bottom of the food chain and, to add insult to injury, the users so often treat us with contempt and disrespect. We're the type of people who have been bullied all our lives and now, when we turn up at our office, we're bullied again. What's our option? A defense mechanism - we preempt you hurting our feelings by clawing at a simple sense of superiority. We've been called every name under the sun, you're getting away lightly if we're only slightly condescending, if all we do is go on the internet and say, "Snarf, users are a bit dumb."

Now, maybe I'm being a big girl softie here, but hardly a day goes by where somebody doesn't do their best to make me cry because they haven't got the good sense to learn how to do a mail merge. Users are a bit dumb, but they threaten us because of their lack of knowledge.
(, Tue 29 Sep 2009, 11:58, closed)
oh lordy lordy!!!!
OK my dear angry Support people, you all appear to work for complete twunts, for which you have a big basket of the freshest sympathy harvested from the sympathy orchards deep in my heart. No actually you do...

Did I mention that I lived with a real life Lady Support Monkey? Nearly married but I ended up suffering from a slight mental illness that ruined us both, so ner to your implication of sexism. (I did mention it, it's further up and everything. Apparently according to tech support at work I have to use that pad thingy at the front of me netbook to go up the screen)

There seems to be a little bit of a "Can dish it out but can't take it" kinda vibe today. Virtualy every post is calling users a group of unpleasant, stupid, angry, loons who are moments away from exploding scanners style.

Well I'm a user.

Be nice to us and we'll be nice to you TA DAAA :-)... hang on I'm typing this to justify a gag on a message board.

Dear lord, what have you turned me into?

Yup, it's frankensteins idiot...
(, Tue 29 Sep 2009, 18:57, closed)
Most people...
...have had the experience of the slightly whiffy man with too much facial hair and abhorrent social skills espousing on the benefits of antivirus software.

I'm nice to everybody, I'm funny and I do my best not to condescend. Most people (a great majority) assume that we're all like the aforementioned social cretin and come at us with all guns blazing. I can pet their heads and whisper sweet nothings as much as I like and they'll still want to stab me in the temple.

Also, people only speak to us when they've got a problem, so their levels of stress are somewhere between Gordon Brown and a chihuahua when they come to us. We're trying to help, stop calling me a c*nt. Also, we're not omnipresent and we can't mind-read, so please don't call us 'useless f*cks' when we haven't been able to act as your IT guardian angel.

Be nice to us and we'll be nice to you. You'd be surprised how few people come to IT standing on a firm basis of nice. I can fully understand how those less inclined to patience might retaliate by calling the users 'idiots or, heaven forbid, handing out a bit of the medicine they get every hour of every day.

We treasure nice users and give them free stuff, including beers.

Nowadays, we prefer to be called 'Lady Support Primates'.
(, Wed 30 Sep 2009, 10:53, closed)
you make lots of good points.
The support are usually in a different room, so they are strangers to the rest of a company, and yes you do suffer from the police syndrome. My dad was a copper for 25 years and said the worst part of the job is that you only see people when there day has gone to shit and you are the only one that can solve everything. Like support. So strangers you have to rely on that are going to confuse you with things that you don't understand, with the worry that all your work is going to go into the ether... no wonder we get tense with each other.

I really do understand!

I am a radio presenter, so please also understand that I have 2 hours counting down to show time. I present and produce, and need to be composed and briefed before I go on air other wise 100,000 people are going to turn off and I'll get fired. If I call support with 15 mins to go with something that is broadcast critical no shit I'm stressed.

I love the 2 broadcast engineers IT gods, seriously, without them I am nothing, cus they built it all, and they know the problems that we face.

We have out-sourced off site IT support... they don't know.
(, Wed 30 Sep 2009, 17:35, closed)
Calm down dear
I think that everyone should chill out a little bit. I thought that the post is funny and very well written. Over the years I have employed many a techie and most (not all, but most) of them do have the opinion that if you don't know how to re-wire your flux capacitor, you are obviously completely stupid and deserving of much derision and patronising. Granted some users ARE complete idiots who really should know better, but I agree that some techies have a tendancy to be rather smug about their mystcial computer knowledge.
(, Tue 29 Sep 2009, 17:34, closed)
^this... (Belongs under Scrittys post above)
All the real (L)users think that we're spotty, geeky, anti-social, conniving, spiteful gits who earn too much money.

And they moan about our impression of them?

I agree with your analysis of "twunt".
(, Wed 30 Sep 2009, 16:44, closed)
Nice post....
I didn't say that you earn too much money.

I didn't say that you're spotty.

I didn't say that you're anti-social.

Though I am concerned you don't seem to be able to put your reply in the right place... how are you at support? :-) ARF!!!
(, Wed 30 Sep 2009, 17:04, closed)

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